Let us Lectio: Joseph and the witness of silence
Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker, May 1, 2021
Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read Callie's meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
Little is known about Joseph’s life. His life was one whose purpose and dream was to protect and give witness to the holy fulfillment of God’s promise to His people. What is known is that he was betrothed to a young woman, with whom he had been faithful and chaste, yet was found pregnant. Thus, this child was clearly not his. There was no way around it: He was faced with a decision. Action was required. To stay or to leave. To advance or to retreat. To condemn to public scandal or to protect the vulnerable.
Joseph is described in Scripture as a just and righteous man. This is a rare compliment in Scripture, and even more significant for someone of the line of David. King David was many things, but he was not always a just man. King Solomon was a wise man, but he was not a man after God’s own heart. Joseph, however, is a just and righteous man, chosen to be the guardian of the King of Kings.
St. Joseph is a virtuous, righteous, and holy man who is also a man of prayer. God speaks to him in dreams, and he manfully takes action. He is a man of righteous action but his action is born of deep prayer. He says nothing in Scripture, but his actions speak volumes. We know who he is and know his character through his actions.
In fact, we first meet Joseph with the moral dilemma of a pregnant Mary. This could hardly be characterized as a calm and stress-free time in his life. And yet he was faithful, just, and silent. During times such as these, St. Joseph stands as a stalwart witness to the necessity of a life receptive to God and all the many blessings He has for us. Regardless of the difficulty, we must listen and receive what God would have for us. For Joseph, this reputation for silence was likely a testament to his practice of listening for God both day and night.
Times of uncertainty and distress — even of chaos and turmoil — should always be times when we seek to ground ourselves in what is essential and holy. What is essential above all else is God. Before Him we must be silent. To Him we must listen. And, like Joseph, we must be ready and willing to respond justly and faithfully.
Callie Nowlin, MTS, is a regular contributor to the North Texas Catholic.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.