Our meditation from THE SOUND OF SILENCE gazes at St Joseph from one of his unique qualities: silence! All that we know about this humble man was reported speech. One can argue that the Evangelists wrote in retrospect. But the events surrounding him were so direct, important and conspicuous that such silence reflects something of his character. While Mary is properly portrayed as a recollected and quiet woman, ‘silence’ is the disposition of Joseph and the ‘language’ he spoke!
“…Eleazar fathered Matthan, Matthan fathered Jacob, and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary of her was born Jesus who is called Christ” (Mt 1:16). Without saying anything about himself, Joseph was introduced as a member of the house of David. His name speaks to us eloquently about the patriarchal hope and blessings from Abraham down to David and Joseph himself. That means he embodies the hope of the Patriarchs, especially the long-awaited fulfilment of the establishment of an everlasting dynasty for David (2 Sam 7:4-16). In Joseph, this hope stepped into its actuality; the great promise reached its fulfilment! Still, Joseph did not utter a word.
St Joseph was such a quiet man that when he had issues with Mary’s pregnancy he carried the burden in his mind, thinking out the best way to save Mary from embarrassment. Yes, he spoke in silence even in his dream, for he did not say anything to the angel. But he got up and acted accordingly (Mt 1:18-25). While his silence reigned, his actions spoke for him. It is through these silent auctions that we hear clearly about the personality of Joseph and the grace that followed him. Recall the events surrounding the birth of Jesus… Think about his silent but quick response to the instruction of the angel to take the child and his mother to Egypt! Look at the beautiful scene of the presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple as Joseph led Mary and the Baby into the temple. Imagine Joseph’s fatherly role and presence as they looked for the Child and found him after three days in the temple. His silence did not diminish his presence nor underrate his role.
Joseph was popularly known for the work of his hands: “This is the Carpenter’s Son” (Mt 13:55). Unfortunately, his humble status is part of the reason the stubborn-hearted rejected Jesus. He stood as a solid pillar of the Holy Family, providing a socio-cultural foundation and relevance to Jesus and Mary. “But when Joseph learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the region of Galilee. There he settled in the town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene” (Mt 2:22-23). The powerful fatherly role of Joseph followed Jesus silently throughout His journey for our salvation. “Pilate wrote out a notice and had it fixed to the cross; it ran: ‘Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews’” (Jn 19:19).
We thank God for the gift of St Joseph; his life and example shine on like a pillar of light to lead us aright. By his silence, he allowed the will of God to prevail in his life. And within silence, St Joseph discerned properly and acted promptly. In silence, he spoke, and his ‘voice’ continues to sound! Since we have such an example, why do we so easily brag about our achievements? Why do we easily feel uncomfortable in silence? Why must our worship of God be noisy and rowdy? Why do we easily want to impose ourselves on others? Why are families easily given in to misunderstanding? Let the silence of St Joseph speak to us, energizing us from within so that our hopes and aspirations can step forward to their fulfilment in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Friday, March 19th, 2021.
Solemnity of St Joseph