Thursday, March 19, 2009

The strong, silent type

Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, 2009:

Today's feast is certainly one of the biggest feasts in the Church year. This is afer all the day that we celebrate St. Joseph as nothing less than the Patron of the Universal Church. The whole Church, then, in its broad sweep to the corners of the earth finds itself under the patronal protection of this great man, St. Joseph, the husband of Mary.

So, on this momentous day in his honor, what does St. Joseph have to say to us? Well, we've all heard the descriptive given to the strong, silent type: "He's a man of few words." Well, for St. Joseph, from the record of Scripture, we can take that another step. St. Joseph is a man of no words. In all of the pages of the New Testament, good St. Joseph doesn't speak a single word.

But, I think, it is actually from his silence that we can learn a deep and abiding lesson from him. St. Joseph is not a man of words, but he is a man of silence and deeds. In place of an abudance of words, St. Joseph gives us another example - one of deep obedience, of deep listening, followed by action. The Latin root of the word obedience means "to listen." And this is just what Joseph does.

We see this in today's Gospel passage from St. Matthew. After the angels reveals to Joseph what he is to do about his marriage to Mary, we don't hear that he pondered, that he questioned, that he disagreed. We hear simply, "When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him."

This is not an isolated example. God tells Joseph to marry Mary, and he does. God tells him to name their child Jesus, and he does. God tells him to protect them and shepherd them off to Egypt, and he does. God tells Joseph to return his family and raise their son in Nazareth, and he does. And God probably told him many, many other things in the years between that beginning and Jesus public life, and we can be assured that Joseph did what God commanded over and over, in his quiet and courageous way.

What an incredible lesson this is for us in the way we follow the Lord. How often do we follow God with such eagerness; with such certainty; with such confidence that God's way is the way?

Let Joseph's silence speak to us today. Let his silence speak loudly to us of the way we are to model our own relationship with God. Let us follow St. Joseph and listen deeply to God in our lives and follow where he may lead.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

May God give you peace.

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