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Silent saint

Of the human characters represented in the tableau of the Nativity this merry, merry season, St. Joseph stands as the silent (and sometimes invisible) one. The New Testament has nothing to report by way of quoting Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.

At the wedding feast in Cana, when Mary asked the servers to bring out the new wine, Joseph was present but did not interfere after hearing Jesus tell his mother that it was not yet his time to perform a miracle. When Jesus was 12 and lecturing the rabbis in the temple, his parents were sick with worry that they had lost him in the crush of the crowd. When they found him, his mother scolded the boy, but Joseph uttered not a word of reprimand. It will forever remain a mystery what Joseph said or might have said to comfort his virgin bride after she gave birth to the Son of God in a manger in Bethlehem.

In last Sunday’s gospel by Matthew – Matthew’s writings are oriented around Joseph, compared with those of Luke, who was a Marian – we are told of Joseph’s intention “to divorce her quietly,” torn between his righteousness and his unwillingness “to expose her to shame.” Beyond reading Joseph’s mind, all that Matthew will tell us is that as Joseph agonized over their domestic situation, an angel appeared in a dream to appease him, “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.”

Pope Francis hears in the silence of St. Joseph the sweet pause of prayer and endorses the Sleeping St. Joseph, the dreaming one who helps the Pope of the millennium by providing solutions to his problems. In the Philippines, young women pray to Joseph for Mr. Right. With St. Joseph as a model, we can only guess that a good husband is a man of a few words. As Lito Atienza puts it, “A man should always have the last word, and that word is ‘Yes, dear’.”
(Jullie Y. Daza)

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