St. Joseph’s silence speaks volumes. As we approach his feast day, March 19, it is because of his silence I am hearing more clearly.
Recently, I was made aware of the fact that not a single one of St. Joseph’s words are recorded in the Bible. Not one word! Contemplating this, I felt immeasurable sadness.
As a child, the booming sound of my father’s voice still echoes through my mind. To this day, I love hearing his stories. There is the story of him rescuing a baby squirrel and nursing it back to health. Another is of him meeting my mother during the summer of his eighteenth birthday, and his retelling of other teenage pranks. I even recall how his voice, talking quietly to my mother late in the evening, could lull me to sleep.
So too must have Jesus, as a young boy, loved to listen to St. Joseph tell stories too.
But we never once hear any of the words, the sentences, the discussions he had with either Jesus or Mary. Missing are stories of St. Joseph talking about the Jewish feasts and reciting the beautiful Hebrew prayers. Or his instructions on how to properly wield carpenter tools to create everyday objects, working side by side with Jesus. There are no observations of their family interactions or the everyday family discussions with Joseph.
And yet Jesus grew from a baby to a young man under his steady protective eyes.
This is why becoming aware of the noticeable lack of his recorded word bothered me. The Bible accurately records the angel’s words to St. Joseph in all of his many dreams. There are the angel’s words as he counsels Joseph to keep Mary as his betrothed. We read of the angel’s warning to flee to Egypt, and again when it is safe to return to Nazareth. It is very clear what God wants him to do.
Researching this phenomenon concerning St. Joseph and our Bible, I discovered the Seven Week Novena to St. Joseph. This particular devotion, as described by Catholic News Agency on their website, explores the seven joys and sorrows of St. Joseph. Beginning on February 4, 2018, the first of the seven Sundays, we are called to contemplate St. Joseph, to come to a greater understanding of this great man.
For example, we all have experienced the pain of a breakup. Imagine the immeasurable pain Joseph must have felt in discovering Mary’s pregnancy and his subsequent decision to ‘put her aside.’ How great his joy must have been when the angel visited him in a dream and told him the conception was God at work. We do not know what he said to Mary after that, but we know what he did. He took Mary as his wife and raised Our Lord as his own.
And then there is the moment Joseph lost God’s Son. As parents, most have felt the horror of losing sight of our children and the ensuing panic. I remember clearly the moment years ago when my then-four-year-old disappeared in Sears. Luckily we found him asleep on the window ledge, but I can still recall the overwhelming feeling of relief! And he had only gone missing for thirty minutes.
Imagine St. Joseph realizing Jesus is missing! Jesus stays behind in the temple, preaching — without telling his parents. If I felt relief after only thirty minutes, think of how Christ’s parents felt when they finally found him three days later. Their happiness must have brought them to tears. These moments, when Joseph’s sorrows were flipped to joy are the ones we need to remember.
Sometimes, during periods of sorrow and sadness in our lives, it is hard to ‘talk’ to God. Our minds wander during Mass. Or praying the Rosary by rote, our minds wander reciting the last decade. In the midst of oft-repeated prayers our brains continue to roam freely on our worries and fears for what is to come.
Consequently, it is during these times we can turn to St. Joseph for guidance. He has literally been in our shoes. Asking for his intercession, his help is exactly what Mary must have done many times. And, so too can we.
This year, as Lent begins and the gospels turn to the ministry of Christ, take a moment to meditate on St. Joseph’s joys and sorrows. God only wants what is best for us. Learn through the silence of his words how to say yes to God’s plan for our lives.
For it is in silence the Word of God is made clear.
Copyright 2018 Carol S. Bannon