instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, March 19, 2007

He made him the lord of his household

As traditional as the St. Joseph's Table are the expressions used when discussing the Patron of the Universal Church: "not much is known," "never speaks," "toiled in poverty and obscurity," and so forth. Let me try to shake things up a bit by proposing something non-traditional, in fact somewhat counter-traditional:

St. Joseph is a major figure in the Bible. In particular, the Old Testament is lousy with references to him.

Today's first reading is an example of one kind of reference. In the literal sense, "It is he who shall build a house for my name," refers to Solomon, who built the first Temple. Christians naturally also understand this as a prophecy of Jesus, since it goes on,
And I will make his royal throne firm forever.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
But between Solomon and Jesus, there is Joseph. He stands between them, not just chronologically, but in straddling the literal and the spiritual sense of the prophecy. Joseph, Son of David (a title acknowledged by the angel of the Lord), built a house (we would say made a home) for the Name of the LORD.

All the Biblical prophecies regarding the house of David lasting forever, which we rightly take to be fulfilled in Christ, are also prophecies of St. Joseph, who "did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home."

What makes them prophecies of St. Joseph in a unique way -- a way, that is, that they aren't likewise prophecies of, say, Shealtiel, or even Joseph's own father -- is this: St. Joseph chose to be the father of Jesus.

When it came to sons, everyone else in David's line -- even David himself, much to his sorrow -- had to take what he could beget. To St. Joseph alone God came with a request to accept a son. God's own Son, of course, but a son of David only through the free choice of Joseph.

Centuries worth of promises, then, awaited their redemption in St. Joseph. His own "Yes," unrecorded in the Gospels, is recorded in prophetic terms throughout the Old Testament.

St. Joseph does speak in the Bible. We just need to be as quiet as he is to hear him.