On this solemnity of Mary’s Divine Motherhood, it’s good also to be reminded of her husband’s quasi-divine Fatherhood, as we begin this ‘Year of Saint Joseph‘. I write ‘quasi’ – ‘as though’ – for how does one express the relation of Saint Joseph to his purported Son, to whom he knew he had no direct biological relation, but who was truly his father in a real and deep sense.
Joseph has always been a mysterious man, the ‘quiet, silent type’, we may think, for not one of his words are recorded in the Gospels. Yet we know he spoke, and much of the life of the Holy Family, is hidden in the obscurity of their life in Nazareth. What did he look like? Was he old, or young? His voice, baritone? How did he live so chastely with the Virgin, Mother of God – the woman, the wife, he loved with a love beyond all telling. How much was he aware of the true nature of those whom he was called to defend, and for whom he was to be so provident?
In the Pope’s letter, Joseph is likened to the ‘shadow of the Father’, and in this year, that shadow comes more clearly into view, to walk amongst us more vividly, to be our strong protector and defender against the forces of evil that, like those of Mordor, are gathering the strength they think is theirs. Not to stretch the analogy, but Joseph is the hidden Strider, walking silently around the Shire, now, perhaps, Aragorn, of the kingly line of David, about to take on his royal role, as the Protector and Defender of the Church.
We need not fear, only trust, have faith, and do whatever part, great or small, to which we are called. Joseph is there to lead and guide us.