Advent is a good time to reflect on St. Joseph. Although many things can be said about him, I have chosen to focus on three.
First, Joseph takes a back seat in the gospels. John’s gospel doesn’t mention him at all. Mark refers to him only obliquely, calling Jesus “the carpenter’s son.” Luke’s focus is on Mary. Only in Matthew’s Gospel is Joseph given any real attention.
This means that Joseph did not have to be center stage. He was content to play a supporting role in the great drama of salvation. Being where God wanted him to be was more important to him than being where he wanted to be. Being faithful was more important than being powerful or popular.
Secondly, Joseph allowed God to enter his world as an earthquake. The Annunciation turned Mary’s life upside down. It also turned Joseph’s life upside down. Mary’s pregnancy caused him great anguish, an anguish eased only by some kind of a nocturnal heavenly visitor. He said his “yes” to marrying this young pregnant woman and raising her child as his own. What generosity! What faith!
Thirdly, Joseph had to navigate the trials of life just as we must do. His life was no walk in the park. The journey to Bethlehem was an arduous trek through inhospitable lands with a wife nine months pregnant with her first child. Later, the flight into Egypt had to be traumatic. We catch a glimpse of what this upheaval must have meant for Joseph when, in today’s news, we see the weary and terror stricken faces of our contemporary refugees.
Joseph bore his trials with considerable grace. Through the ups and downs of daily living, he clung to what really mattered: his faith in a God who was powerful, loving, and good. He was a man of humility and personal integrity despite the greed and corruption of some of the religious and political leaders of his day. In one way, Joseph lived a very ordinary life, but he lived it in an extraordinary way, working hard to support his family, drawing strength from his religious faith and traditions, and pouring out his love on his wife, son, and the community beyond his door.
Let us pray: St. Joseph, walk with me this Advent as I once again prepare for God’s continual entry into my life. May I welcome God’s coming in whatever form that coming may take–from a gentle breeze to a turbulent earthquake. Give me courage to face the challenges life sets before me. When life is rough, may I, like you, cling to my faith in a God who is powerful, loving, and good. May I strive to be a person of personal integrity, no matter what. May I pour my love out on my family, my friends, and the communities of which I am a part. And finally, I thank you, St. Joseph, for being such an example of humility, faith, prayerfulness, courage, and love. Amen.
What qualities in Joseph are you attracted to the most?
If you could ask one gift from St. Joseph (for yourself or for our world today), what would you ask for?
This Christmas song is from Joseph’s perspective. It’s called “A Strange Way to Save the World” and is sung by 4Him. To me it captures some of Joseph’s thoughts and feelings about the wonder and mystery of the birth of Jesus.
I invite you to respond below to anything in this reflection or to add your own thoughts about St. Joseph and/or Advent.