So are all the Josephs dreamers? Well the Bible presents us with another dreamer; this time in the New Testament and he is the foster father of Jesus. St Joseph’s dreams don’t require any interpretation like the ones in Zechariah or Daniel. His dreams are straightforward, though their execution called for obedience; and obey he did.
So I often wonder why we don’t make much of St Joseph. For some reason, we have made him the third person of the Holy Family and often the least acknowledged for his role. Joseph, like Mary also said yes! Yes to a socially interpreted scandalous marriage, yes to being homeless, yes to being a refugee, yes to being a foster father; and this last one being a tough one. Joseph said YES; and yet there are no hymns that I know that sing of his ‘fiat” ( from the Latin, “let it be done”).
The gospel of today speaks of another lost son, not prodigal, but lost all the same. Jesus in a very theological sense was not lost, He was where He should be, ‘in His Father’s house’; but His parents most certainly though they had lost him.
Luke is the only gospel that gives us a story from Jesus’ childhood. This precocious little twelve year old most certainly gave Mary and Joseph a three day fright. The first words that Jesus spoke in the New Testament, are recorded in this narrative; “Why were you searching for me, did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
Make no mistake, for all the love my parents have for me, that statement coupled with three days of insane stressful searching would have earned me a good thrashing. And yet I presume, Joseph and Mary were silent and not angry. How often perhaps, in His childhood, had Jesus said things that only solicited puzzled glances from Mary and Joseph?
But on this occasion, something must have happened in the heart of this ever invisible but dutiful father. St Joseph, who played his role as foster father to perfection, is now told the inevitable; that Jesus was in ‘His Father’s house’. ‘Father’, no longer refers to Joseph, his foster-father, a title by which the boy Jesus lovingly called Joseph. Now that word ‘Father’, refers to God. Luke makes the new meaning very clear, emphasizing that Jesus, a fully human teenage boy, is also the Son of God and fully divine. And while his heart must have tugged, Joseph let go, pondering all this in his heart.
He is a good man, this one; a devoted and obedient servant of God. His yes was more than a yes to ‘the divine call’. He said yes to his human calling too. He was that just and hardworking carpenter who provided for his family. He was the devoted servant of God, who though was not required, made the trip to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. He traversed hill and mountain on foot, making a week long journey to Jerusalem with Mary. He not only strived to do what was right, but to do it the right way, when he took Mary home to be his wife. He accepted the role of refugee in Egypt, fleeing from a tyrant who wanted to murder his son. He is the silent one of the gospel. You never hear his words, NOT ONCE! But you see his actions and boy, do they speak far louder than words!
-Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit and dedicated to
Our Holy Father, whose patron saint is Joseph, my father Edmund D’souza, who taught me charity and honesty and Elijah my God-son and his Father, my dearest friend, Leonard Rego
Fr Warner Brendon D’Souza can be contacted at
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