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The Year of St. Joseph - A Father in the Shadows II

The previous entry spoke of Joseph’s “chaste love” for Mary and Jesus in categories that go beyond the physical manifestations of love and enter into the underlying attitude of his heart: a lack of possessiveness, a desire for the freedom and flourishing of another, a self-denial that makes the loved one, not the self, the center of attention. This is Joseph “in the shadows” – not to hide, but to allow Jesus and Mary to be in the light because of his love for them.

Pope Francis goes on to note that “Joseph found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice but in self-gift. In him, we never see frustration but only trust. His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust.” This “self-gift” is at the heart of true love, and one can argue that Jesus found His strength in the Garden of Gethsemane not only from Mary’s example: “Let it be done according to your word,” but from Joseph’s witness to faithful obedience in love to God’s will, even when it is mysterious.

We often remark upon the silence of Joseph, for not a word of his is recorded in Scripture; but we must not confuse that with the idea that Joseph had nothing to say, or was a brooding, stoic figure. His witness to God’s love was not in words but in deeds highlighted in the Gospels, and that is the challenge to us from Joseph’s silence: not simply to say, but to do; not simply to hold high ideals and good intentions, but to act on them with consistent love,

How can you fulfill a task of life this week not only with obedience and trust, not only with self-sacrifice, but the self-gift that is love?

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