Joseph Most Obedient

God the Father offered his friendship to the first human family, to Adam and Eve, but their disobedience broke this friendship. Yet another family came to make reparation, by means of extraordinary obedience: the Holy Family of Nazareth. Indeed, the house of Nazareth was a house of obedience, where Jesus and Mary, the New Adam and the New Eve, were obeying Joseph, the vicar of God the Father and head of the Holy Family. The Lord has put his faithful servant in charge of his household. (Mt 24:45)

We also recall the condemnation spoken to Adam: “Cursed is the ground because of you! In toil you shall eat its yield all the days of your life. By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.” (Gen 3:17.19) In the order of redemption, the role of Joseph was to accept this daily and hard labor, and to make it a redemptive offering. With loving obedience to the Father, Joseph offered his work in order to provide for Jesus. “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being.” (Col 3:23.24)

But this doesn’t mean that Joseph was a workaholic. Indeed, a man doesn’t live to work, but he works to live. And Joseph perfectly understood this truth. Joseph didn’t seek to multiply human works. In fact, he had only one work in mind: to collaborate in the growth of Christ in his humanity, protecting him and nourishing him. Joseph’s sweat was all given for the growth of Christ.

The Blessed Virgin Mary knew, however clearly or confusedly, what was to be the cruel fate of Jesus. And so did Joseph know. Therefore, if the obedience of Joseph to the Father was visible in his labor, it was even more brilliant in his sacrifice. Indeed, how painful it must have been to bear the torture of raising a child destined to be killed. Joseph knew that by nourishing the child Jesus, he was leading him, slowly but surely, to the altar of sacrifice. As the nurturer of the Savior, Joseph fattened up the Lamb for the slaughter. He prepared the Host, the Victim. All the protection Joseph provided for Jesus, the flight to Egypt and all the rest, all this was not to spare him from all suffering; it was only to lead him up to Calvary, and to preserve him for the hour that the Heavenly Father had set for the oblation.

As an obedient steward of the Father, Joseph provided the Lamb. As Abraham the Patriarch, who sacrificed his son Isaac, St. Joseph is a true model of obedience. “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering? - God will provide.” (Gen 22:7-8) As the road of Abraham with Isaac to Mount Moriah had been long and painful, so was the road of Joseph with Jesus on earth. But God’s angel had told him: “Joseph, do not be afraid.” (Mt 1:20). So Joseph believed and earned an eternal reward. Faithful servant, come and share your master’s joy. (Mt 25:23)

St. Joseph most obedient, pray for us.

Br. Jordan Martin, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE