“And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” - Luke 2:33-35
Forgive me as I may be a little biased just coming off completing the 33 day consecration to St. Joseph, but I think given that we are in the Year of St. Joseph, it is worth reflecting on the role of St. Joseph in the Paschal Mystery. It would be fair to question such an endeavor, especially since Joseph’s last mention in the scriptures is when Jesus escaped his supervision at the Temple. Such a moment - the potential loss of a child in a crowded area - is by no means considered a victory in parenting.
The gift of parenthood provides me a new prism to view the life of the Holy Family, and it brought me to these questions:
What would it be like to know my child was going to suffer a death I could not conceive of, let alone observe first-hand?
What would it be like to hear that my child was meant to become an instrument whereby the tradition given to me would be turned upside down, and many of my closest friends and family members may not come out on the right side of it?
What would it be like to hear words from a holy stranger in a holy place along the lines of, “You are going to feel it in your bones and it will place a sharp, unbearable pain in your heart, when you come to terms with how your child is going to suffer yet reveal something magnificent to the world?”
And what would it be like to know that my child is going to bring out the best and worst parts of our humanity, all that springs up from within and either surrenders to love or lashes out in pride?
And then I wonder to myself, how much did Joseph learn from Jesus? I learn so much from my own children, and sometimes they are tough lessons about my own self.
I am thankful for the opportunity to learn more about the suffering of St. Joseph this Lent.
Consider the scripture quote above and then these words:
Simeon’s words were spoken to Mary, but St. Joseph heard them. When St. Joseph heard Simeon announce to Mary that Jesus would be a cause of division, and that Mary’s Heart would be pierced by a sword, the prophetic words penetrated the loving heart of St. Joseph, causing him unspeakable sorrow. It was a sorrow that he would carry in his heart for the rest of his life.
Jesus learned obedience by what he suffered, and it should not surprise us that he likely learned this from St. Joseph. Think about this too: there are no recorded words by Joseph in the bible. He suffered silently. How is it possible that we know anything about such a quiet man? Mary alone must have testified to the evangelists.
The Holy Family had a hard but beautiful life, because the fidelity of those familial bonds were strengthened by what was endured.
In the accounts of the mystical visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, we are told that in Egypt the Holy Family underwent the frightful experience of being surrounded by robbers with bad intentions. On Calvary, Mary remembered how strong her husband had been and how he was willing to die out of love for his family. In this memory, she would have found the strength to be a co-victim with Jesus.
Where was St. Joseph at Calvary? He was in the heart of Mary, and so I say, Joseph was there!
At Calvary, the memory of all St. Joseph had done for his wife and Son must have been a consolation to Jesus, as well. Through the role model Joseph provided for him of long and faithful suffering, Jesus was better able to offer his own sacrifice on Calvary… God did not require Joseph to be physically present at the sacrifice of Calvary, but Jesus knew that he would never have made it to Calvary without him… The virginal Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph are one, so is their mission.
So too the mission of the family, our families. We are here to get each other to heaven. God did not declare an unreasonable or impossible path for us to get there; he did come and tread this path of family life to exemplify the possibility of living and loving each day as if it were one step up the ladder to heaven.
I bet St. Joseph could make us a ladder with the simplest of tools, only to show us that all we need to love each other is the simplest of smiles.
Let us pray these words together and ask our school patron to prepare our hearts for Calvary and the Empty Tomb:
“O most sensitive heart of St. Joseph, who, resembling the tender heart of Mary, felt the sorrows of the Most Holy Mother, tell me, what did you feel, hearing the terrible prophecy of Simeon? Yet with what generosity, with what silence and unalterable resignation did you accept from the hands of God even the sword of sorrow for our good! How can I show you my thanks? O sweetest saint, I want to imitate your generosity, and to my painful news I will say with you: God’s will be done.” - Blessed Bartolo Longo
-Mr. Derek Tremblay, Headmaster