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Saint Joseph said “yes”

Joseph, as we know him from the Gospels, was a person who always said “yes” to God.

We also know that, again in the Gospels, little is said about him. And he speaks even less, or rather he does not say a word.

The only two occasions when he is spoken of are the one in which Jesus becomes man, enters the human world and Israel’s history of salvation (his birth, all that prepares it, his presentation at the temple) and the one in which Jesus becomes an adult and enters the social world of the time (his finding in the temple).

Therefore if the Gospel mentions Joseph it does so in close relation to Jesus, since he is for Jesus.

For each of these occasions there would be many things that may attract our attention. Just one sentence, in which Matthew gives the first brush stroke and presents us Joseph for the first time in his Gospel: “… Jacob became the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus”.

After a long list of ancestors starting from Abraham we come to Joseph. If we look carefully, the chain breaks here: Jesus seems not to have to do with Joseph and all those who preceded him because he is born of Mary. Joseph got to do with Jesus only because he is the husband of his mother.

Behold, the long list of men that transmit life (of each one it is said: “became the father”) stops with Joseph and Joseph seems to be the father of Jesus... just because he is not, that is because he accepts to welcome One whose father is Someone Else than him.

This mystery of Joseph’s life is the light of the mystery of our adventure as human beings, because it is an indication of the first step that allows us too to enter into the family of Jesus, one of which he himself will speak, saying, “Who is my mother, who are my brothers?” Moreover, if at first glance Jesus appears to come into the family of David, it is better said that it is the family of Abraham and David, through Joseph, which joins the little family of Mary carrying Jesus, generated by the work of Holy Spirit in her.

The first step to enter into this family in which the Spirit is generating, then, is simply... to do nothing!

Yes, that’s right: in all those became the father of Matthew’s list there is the trace of human action: committing, struggling, building, feeling, thinking, evaluating, planning, deciding and acting. All this action is intermixed with weaknesses and small or big sins, and we see it in all that long list of ancestors. But when we come to Joseph, we hear of him that he stops. As his wife did before, Joseph and Mary interrupt the chain of human action, in which man is – we might say – actively active, in order to inaugurate the chain of receiving divine action, one in which man is actively passive.

“…Jacob became the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus”: in these few pen strokes we can admire what is the secret of divine life compared with the human one, the only way through which God may generate and be generated. His life, in order to expand within us, needs primarily a thing: that we, being actively contemplative, realize – while the moments and occasions of existence pass – that it is the Lord who is passing near to us right now and that it is He who has in his mind something to do, He is revealing us some of his projects.

Joseph is that Joseph we know because he is the husband of Mary, who in turn is the mother of Jesus. He in her and she in herself are attentive spectators of God who is passing. This inner stopping, this renunciation to let ourselves be carried away by so many anxieties, which has its practical aspect in our prayer time – a time in which God acts, while we silence and block all the distractions that inhabit our minds – this stopping then is the field tilled and prepared that makes it possible to the seed sown in us to sprout. It blooms and makes us say that word – “Yes!” – which is, in the eyes of God, the most beautiful fruit of our freedom.

Joseph approached Jesus through Mary, and was his educator and father.

St. Leonard Murialdo chose Joseph as a model for the religious congregation founded by him because, thanks to the intervention of Mary, Mediatrix of all grace, its members should welcome the Lord in the least of their brothers.

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