The Twelve Days: 3 - Joseph

Published on 28 Dec 2017
Statue of Joseph against stained glass

Father George Smolski OFM

Alone, of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Joseph re­mains silent. Not a word of his is recorded in the Bible and yet he speaks to us now. Like Lazarus’s sister Mary at Bethany, he contemplates the one thing necessary (Luke 10:38) – the presence of the incarnate Son of God. Having trusted in the message of his angelic dream that his virgin-be­trothéd is pregnant with the Saviour of the world Joseph now rests content and transfixed on the babe of Bethlehem. His face remains serene and calm and his eyes set on the Wonder which lies before him. Neither the clamour of the midnight visitors nor the inclement conditions can distract him from the sight of the new born babe.

We see here the demeanour of the believer in the presence of the living God. Look at his hands clasped in prayer and adoration: he knows that he is in the presence of One greater than himself. He sees the human face of God whom, prophets and kings desired to see... but did not see (Luke 10:24). He stands humble and reverent yet self-possessed and noble because he is in the pres­ence of Love. All true love ennobles us in our hu­manity. It is the stance of the trusting Christian in the presence of God. It is the contemplative stance to which we are all called. And so we can pray: Teach us, dear St Joseph, to set our gaze on the one thing necessary – Jesus Christ, in whom, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colos­sians 1:20).

But not only is Joseph blessed with the presence of God’s fullness but Jesus, too, is blessed with his foster father’s loving presence. As the child grows he will gaze again and again into the loving and attentive face of this just man (Matthew 1:19) and find there the model for his own manhood. By his constant companionship and paternal love Joseph will teach the young boy how to be fully human, fully man. Along with mother Mary, they are the first to teach their child in the ways of faith; from Joseph’s example Jesus will learn to trust God as a loving Father.

Teach us, dear St Joseph, to set our gaze on the one thing necessary – Jesus Christ, in whom, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.

Image credit: Marcin Mazur/Clifton Diocese

Day 4