In the lead up to the Solemnity of St. Joseph, when I sat down to watch The Young Messiah, a film based on the childhood of Jesus as depicted in Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord Out of Egypt, I couldn’t help but pay particular attention to the character of St. Joseph, guardian of the Holy Family. Here are some moments I picked up.
1. Accumulates facts before making judgments about a situation
When he hears the accusation through rumour that his son Jesus may have killed a boy, Joseph, possibly sensing the incongruency of God’s son committing murder, did not react defensively or impulsively. He calmly drilled into what were the facts of the situation and look into the truth of things rather than count on hearsay. Contrast his emotional stability to Cleopas, in this film depicted as Mary’s brother, who has a much bigger and bolder personality
2. Readily welcomes those who have no home
Joseph is ready and willing to set the example for Jesus to welcome a slave woman left on her own. He does not judge her killing a captor in self-defense but puts all of her past aside for the cause of loving each of God’s children as they are.
3. Steady supporter of those he loves
When Mary has doubts and feels overcome with the responsibility to care for God’s Son, Joseph is there to remind her that God entrusted them to their care and it would not be more than they could bear.
4. Fearlessly Stands on the frontline to protect his family
When the Romans come to take a prisoner, Joseph is the first to volunteer himself in the place of any other hostage that they propose to take with them. He always takes several steps ahead to check for any danger on their perilous journey to Nazareth, and then to Jerusalem.
5. Unquestionable trust in God’s will
A well exercised discerner of God’s messages to him. A dream is what led him to Egypt. A dream (of the same kind) is what called him back to Nazareth. He unhesitatingly decided to uproot his livelihood in Alexandria and go back to Nazareth and face the uncertain, knowing only that this is what God wanted. Even when Jesus seems to wander off toward the temple, he is confident that His safety is in God’s hands and they know immediately where to go find him.
Joseph is not only the Guardian of the Holy Family but the primary exemplar for the growing Messiah. May you be blessed with his example of true paternity this festal weekend.
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