The gospel today speaks of Joseph as a just man. The biblical sense of a just man is one who regulated his life according to the word and law of God, not only when this law suited his desires, but always and at all times. He was righteous or just for he was impartial, tactful and respectful of Mary’s individuality and even that which he could not understand in her. He has the kindness and mercy of God. He has a sense of justice and tender and gentle heart; that is why he decided to quietly divorce Mary. His love for God is higher than any love. By law Mary could have been stoned to death and exposed to shame. It was the duty of a man to do so according to law. But Joseph acted according to love and mercy of God.
Mary herself, favored by God, must have felt the anguish of Joseph. It would be hard to believe that she did not tell Joseph her encounter with the Lord through the angel. She did not give any explanation but she nevertheless related it to Joseph. She wanted to glorify the Lord.
For Joseph, it is not a question of unfaithfulness on the part of Mary. It would be difficult for us to believe that Joseph has not felt something special about Mary. When you are in the presence of one who is highly favored by God it is nigh impossible not to feel God’s presence more so for a just man. It is possible to be just and at the same time be kind and protect the sinner. Human justice is strict and punishing and even cruel. The justice of God is saving but God will not condescend to impunity of sinners. Among the closest people to Jesus, Joseph is the least mentioned in Scriptures. We could almost say that if we removed the passages which mentions Joseph, the gospel would still be understood.
But the truth is it cannot be done because those closest to God is at the center of our belief as to how our salvation was worked out by God, especially Joseph as the foster father of Christ. Can you imagine, God the Almighty has shared with Joseph his fatherhood for Christ! He was protector of the helpless child through whom the universe was created. Through Joseph God wants Jesus to feel His fatherhood!
The world is saved not by noisy people proud of their abilities and achievements but the silent ones who knows how to trust in God. Those intimate with God understand that their life’s purpose is to give praise and honor to God and to acknowledge that God is at work in the world. Those close to God pray constantly that the world will one day acknowledge that God is their father. They pray for those who have no time to pray and especially for those who have turned against God and against their fellow men.
Is Joseph relevant for us today? Yes, because in Joseph we have a good patron. A patron of the poor, of workers, of exiles a model for worshipers, an exemplar of pure discipline of heart, prototype of fathers who protect their children. As man he experienced death and so he is the patron of the dying standing on our bedside. We have been given by God a good patron who lived his humanity in humility, in silence, in faithfulness to his duties.
Is it not interesting that both Joseph and Mary are seldom mentioned in Scriptures. It does not matter because they had everything anyone can ask for in life. They are at the center of God’s life and Trinity’s plan of salvation. Anyone who follows them will experience the same reality. What can you say when you have everything! When God takes hold of you. When God embraces you with so much warmth of love as a mother and father would. You do work quietly and faithfully and with dedication. Joseph may not understand the workings of God but he knows well God’s presence in his whole being. You simply become silent!