We have all heard it said that “actions speak louder than words.” In the case of St. Joseph, we have not a single spoken word recorded in all of Scripture. I understand humility, but if it were me, I would have bargained with God for at least something! Joseph accomplished everything the Lord asked from him while spending thirty years in the presence of the God-Man and the Immaculate Conception. Surely, he had more than a few stories to tell! Yet, we hear not a word…
Why would the Holy Spirit will the hiddenness and silence of St. Joseph in Scripture? Did the second greatest saint in heaven truly have nothing to say? In this light, could he really have been all that important? On the contrary, this silence should speak loudly to us. St. Joseph is the ultimate example of the famous teaching of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Throughout this journey, we will enter into the mystery of St. Joseph and allow him to “preach the gospel” to us through his actions and even through his silence. If we have the spiritual ears to hear it, God wishes to teach us something profound through the silence of St. Joseph.
St. Joseph was content to be hidden because he was not all about himself. St. Joseph was all about God. He had no desire to be in the limelight, no desire to get in a word or two, no desire for attention and no desire to make himself known. Therefore, his example teaches us an incredibly valuable and absolutely essential element in the spiritual life…It’s not about ME! From the very start, we learn from him the essential virtue of humility.
It is hard, if not impossible, to truly possess any other virtue, if we are lacking in humility. Simply put, the opposite of humility is pride. Within every sin committed, there is an element of pride at its core. In the words of St. Augustine, “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” If our other virtues are filled with pride, then they aren’t really authentic virtues at all. Over the next month, we will see the abstract idea of humility put on flesh through the example of this unassuming carpenter. We are just getting started. The more we become acquainted with him, the more we enter into the mystery, and as we do so, the hidden character of St. Joseph will begin to be revealed.
As you set out along this journey, start by reflecting on your own life. First and foremost, there is a need to enter into daily silence. God desires to speak to you with a still, small voice. If there is no room for silence in your life, it becomes impossible to hear that voice. Don’t be afraid to waste time with God. Ask St. Joseph to help you make time for daily silence, and ask him to teach you to listen for the subtle and gentle voice of the Lord.
Second, you must begin this journey with the desire to grow in humility. You must come to an understanding that, in turning our focus from within, we find what we seek! St. Joseph was a master of this concept. Let us pursue this great humility by once again looking to the advice of St. Augustine, “Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”
Heavenly Father – give me the grace to desire a deeper relationship with you. Help me to hear your whisper amidst the noise of my life. May your word be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
St. Joseph – illuminate the darkness that shrouds your life. Pierce the silence that hides your wisdom. Amen.