A Quiet Man
Homily for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Preached on March 19, 2010 at Holy Spirit Parish/The Newman Center at the University of Kentucky, Lexington KY
Readings: 2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16; Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a
It comes as a surprise to many that none of the Gospels record a single word spoken by St. Joseph. And yet, it is true: not once do we hear him say anything. He breathed no complaint when the only delivery room he could find in Bethlehem was a stable (cf. Lk. 2:7). He did not utter any objection to the angel’s command in his dream (cf. Mt. 1:20-24). No reproach came from his lips when his wife was found with child through the Holy Spirit (Mt. 1:18). In fact, he was unwilling to expose her to shame (Mt. 1:19). Joseph could have blabbed up and down the neighborhood of Nazareth that Mary got pregnant by Someone else, but instead he decided to divorce her quietly (Mt. 1:19). When most men would have easily shared a piece of their mind, Joseph just kept his mouth shut.
Joseph didn’t do much talking because he was the kind of guy who let his actions speak for himself. And his deeds reveal to us the many virtues of this quiet man: the humility of a son of David to serve the God of David; the concern of a husband for the reputation of his wife (cf. Mt. 1:19); the faith of a dreamer who trusted in God’s plan of salvation, however crazy that plan might have sounded at that time (cf. Mt 1:20-24); the vigilance of a guardian for a Child hunted down by a homicidal king (cf. Mt. 2:13-14); the patience of a father who taught the Maker of the universe the carpenter’s trade.
It is true that Joseph did not have a lot to say in the Gospels. He let all that he did for the Son of God do all the talking. Perhaps, we can learn from him and do the same.