Today Catholics around the world celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church and the “silent partner” of Mary, in what we know as the Holy Family. I say that Joseph was silent because although he appears in several places in the gospels, there are no words attributed to him. It is up to us to imagine his part in the conversations that took place in family life, their travels and other significant events. That can be difficult for people who desire to know more about Joseph but much easier for those with active imaginations.
As I think of it, that is true for us with much of Scripture. We need to take the descriptions of events and fill-in the blanks where conversation is lacking. Those of us who live under the patronage of Joseph, e.g. Sisters of St. Joseph, carry him with us – most likely as a reflection of how we try to live our commitment to the religious life. What we can say about Joseph is that he heard God speaking to him in dreams, trusted what he heard and was obedient to God’s messages throughout his life.
I envision Joseph as a loving, gentle and kind spouse and father, humble about his work and his role in God’s plan. Although we do not hear him speak for himself, his humility and willingness to carry out God’s plan is evident in his actions. I have come to love the portrayal of his silent acceptance and way of moving through life as gift. Often words fail when God intervenes in our days in special ways or surprising moments. I believe Joseph treasured these events in his life and that they anchored him when the difficult moments came. Silence was his home, I think, and it served him well.
May Joseph’s gift of silence be a prayer to bless each of us today and may his love for God and his family be an example to all. Happy Feast!