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The Silent Man of Bethlehem



Question: How often so far this Advent have you paused to think about the story of Christmas? Probably quite frequently. (I know that readers of Dominicans Interactive are very holy people.)

Second Question: How often so far this Advent have you paused to think about St Joseph? Ah yes, we always forget about Joseph….

There is something very mysterious about this wonderful saint, and particularly with regard to his part in the Christmas story. No words are attributed to him; he is brought into the Gospels only in so far as he plays his vital role in the beginning, and then after that nothing more is heard of him. Yet the silence of St Joseph truly speaks: we know just enough about him to catch a glimpse of a great holiness, and someone who had an indispensable mission in the life of Jesus.

We ought to closely identify with Joseph when we are pondering on the Nativity scene. We are lost in wonder at the reality that God the Creator of all things became like just another creature, and a helpless baby at that, and all this because we were sinners and could not find our way back to God. If we really think about it, it is beyond understanding – but what must it have been like for the man chosen to become the foster-father of this Child? He must have looked first at Mary, realizing that she was like no other human being, a woman simply radiating goodness and holiness with every breath she took; and then he would have looked at the Baby in the manger, and something of this mystery of God-made-Man would have overwhelmed him, and just like ourselves, perhaps he thought it was simply beyond understanding.

But I think the difference with St Joseph was that he was a saint…. and saints never let mysteries get in the way of loving God. He had been given this vocation to fulfil, and he set about it in the spirit of faith. He found that the Son of God was to be subject to his parental authority, and it made him simply more reliant on Divine assistance.

Finding a moment to pray to St Joseph this Christmas could be of immense benefit for our world. He speaks to men especially, giving an example of a ordinary life made extraordinary by faith, work and chastity. He speaks to families everywhere, reminding them of how fundamental and necessary they are for the making of a better world. And he speaks to the Church, as her heavenly Protector, urging us on to live lives of holiness just like him. So spare a thought for the silent man of Bethlehem, and you may find yourself listening very intently.


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