The Role of Joseph in our Individual Sanctity
All homage be to thee O Virginal Father, O Vice-Regent of the Kingdom of God, O Spotless Lily and Supernal Cloud of Wisdom –St. Joseph. All praise be to Thee O Virginal Mother, O Celestial Queen of the Kingdom of God, O Resplendent Rose and Raging Fire of Love –my Mother. All glory and honour belongs solely to Thee O Beloved Jesus, O Divine King of the Kingdom of God, O Succulent Fruit and Bread of Delight –my Jesus. Amen.
Let us abandon the arrogant pursuits of our own human will, a will which seeks to craft a house and home of its own design for the souls own comfort and delight. For we yearn to live in the comfort and affordability (for being worldly is seemingly costless and easy) of the suburbs and towns of here bellow. Or else we may desire to build our house in one of the towns above, and such a house may be spiritual, and even in a most exalted town (that is degree of sanctity); yet even such a feat of craftsmanship is in vain when compared to the most sublime dwelling place that ever was, is and shall be: the Holy Family, the Holy House of Nazareth –the Place of Pure Marble Stone where the waters above are intimately one with the waters bellow.
But who can build this House of the Highest Sanctity within themselves? What hands can craft such genius divine, such beauty sublime? Indeed “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (Ps 127:1); for only God can build such a House, and only the Hands of His Divine Will can craft such a Masterpiece beyond the excellence of earth’s every wonder combined. This Holy House is the Divine Mansion, the Highest of the Supernal Temple’s and the eighth dwelling place beyond the sanctity of the seventh.
|An icon depicting Mary and Jesus with the Holy House of Nazareth|
Yet who is He whom God the Father chose to be His earthly-loving hands in flesh? Hands to build, craft and rule the Holy of Holies? ‘Twas the hands of He who whose hands were pure and knew not guile or the violence of bloodshed. To Solomon God appointed the task of building His House on earth –the Temple; for his hands were pure and innocent unlike David his father who killed many a man in battle. To Noah God appointed the task of building the refuge of the Ark, for his hands were righteous compared to the hands of every other man in his day. Yet who is He who was chosen to build and craft and rule God’s Holy House on earth, the Incarnate Abode of the Trinity? Joseph Most High. For God “made him” in fulfillment of the Joseph of old, “Lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions” (Ps 105:21). God Himself in Christ Jesus was obedient to Him as Lord.
What marvel! What awe! That God Himself would submit to Joseph as His Lord. Why is this so? Because God’s own Love filled the paternal heart of this Man so much so, that God could not resist but to subject Himself to the Loving demands of this heart of Joseph which loved Him so; for these holy demands were naught else but the perfect echo of the desires of God the Father Himself. Therefore what else is St. Joseph but the Living Mirror of the Father, for what God the Father is by nature, St. Joseph (in a unique way compared to any other creature, including the Virgin Mary, but excluding the Word in His humanity; since by nature the Word –both man and God- is one in Essence with the Father) is by grace. This is something which I cannot fathom. For yes both Mary and Joseph are by grace what God is by nature; yet in a special way the First Personage of the Trinity –God the Father- is in a sense incarnated in Joseph; just as the Third Personage of the Trinity –God the Spirit- is in a sense incarnated in Mary in a special and distinctly unique way.
Now if Mary is the Mediatrix of all grace, meaning that She is the one who dispenses grace, and through whom all graces flow (from the Father, in Jesus, by the Holy Spirit); then Joseph as Her Virginal Spouse and as “ruler of all his [God’s] possessions”, must be the Protector, Guardian, Steward, Co-Owner and Treasurer of grace itself. If Mary is the Treasure Chest in whom graces are stored, then Joseph is the one with the key to that chest. If Mary is the stream through whom graces flow to all souls, then Joseph is the channel which determines the method and journey that such a stream will flow. If Mary is the vessel, then Joseph is the empty space which allows this vessel to be filled with grace. Indeed Mary is the Holy House of Nazareth, and Joseph is the head and master of this House, the very House in whom the Child Jesus lived and grew up in.
|Offering of the First of the First Fruits|
As it reads in Exodus: “The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God” (Ex 23:19). The Lord Jesus is Himself ‘the first of the first fruits’ because He is “the first-born of all creation” (Col 1:15b) and “the first-born from the dead” (Col 1:18b). Now it is interesting that the command of God given to Moses reads: ‘of your ground’ as opposed to ‘of the ground’ or ‘from the ground’. Wherefore we can come to one understanding of this passage as follows: that ‘of your ground’ refers to the soul itself, which without God is naught but nothingness, naught but barren ground. So when God speaks of “the first of the first fruits of your ground” it can be understood to mean: ‘The Infant Jesus who lives in your soul.’ The latter half of the verse: “you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God” can be understood to mean: ‘you shall bring into the spousal union and parentage of Mary and Joseph.’ Interpreting this command of old we receive the same command yet in a fulfilled newness. Note that this is a command and not a gentle pietistic suggestion: “The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God”; or in other words: ‘The Infant Jesus who lives in your soul you shall bring into the spousal union and parentage of Mary and Joseph.’ This means that if we want to become perfect and reach that highest sanctity of Living in God’s Will –living in the Holy House of Nazareth, in hidden obscurity- then we must entrust the life of Jesus in us –that is our very own sanctity- to Mary and Joseph. We must consecrate ourselves to them and implore their aid. There is no need to labour in building a house of our own sanctity, in the complex and grandiose manner we naturally desire. This is because true and perfect sanctity cannot be built by human hands that are impure and sinful, and nor is such authentic sanctity complex or grandiose –but rather simple, child-like and obscure and ordinary: just like the Holy Family; the most saintly persons to ever dwell on earth, and the most despised, rejected, ignored and obscure.
Now besides the fact that we cannot build the house of our own sanctity, we do not need to, nor have to, because the House has already being built, for Mary is the House of Perfect Sanctity –the shortcut to holiness and perfect means of living in union with Jesus the Divine Will Incarnate. Meanwhile Joseph is the Master Builder, and it is ‘primarily’ God the Father who works in, with and through Him in every work He does. Joseph can be said to have built the Holy House who is Mary, in the sense that because of Joseph’s Fiat –to be a virginal spouse of Mary and father of the Son of God- Mary was able to house Jesus not only in Her fleshly womb, but in the abode of being the Mother of God, as well as in the physical dwellings where Jesus grew up. It is as if Mary’s Fiat provided the materials for the House of Nazareth or House of the Incarnation to be built, whilst Joseph’s Fiat permitted such a sublime reality to be built. Since therefore, that this Holy House exists, all we must do is strive to become perpetual residents in this House. For here Jesus will grow inside one’s soul, and thus these words shall be fulfilled within you: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).