18 March 2007

Short Meditation for St. Joseph's Day

Tomorrow is the day. This is what I will share at our spoken Divine Service tomorrow morning. The texts are 2 Samuel 7:4-16; Romans 4:13-18; and Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23.

Who's the carpenter here? David wanted to build a house for God, but God tells him: "No, I'm the one who will build a house for you." David is blown away by the kindness of the Lord, His goodness and love. "Let it be" he prays. "Dump down the goodies."

Years later, a Carpenter, a Son of David, welcomed into his home a woman pregnant with a child not of his own body, but the child of his heart. He welcomed the little Carpenter, God in the flesh, who had come to build a true temple for God among human flesh and blood. Jesus was the name the angel gave. "Because he will save his people from their sins." As Mary came nearer to term and the child bulged in her womb, Joseph would place his hand on her tummy and feel the baby kick, and say to himself: "This is my Savior. This is the one we have prayed for and hoped for all our lives. He comes to set us free!"

Old Joseph didn't live to see how that redemption would take place. He's last mentioned in the temple with Mary and Jesus when the lad was 12. Sometime between then and Jesus' baptism at the age of 30, he died. He didn't live to see the shame of the cross, when only Mary and her friends had the courage to stand by him. He didn't live to see the triumph of the empty tomb when Jesus would begin spreading the joy of death's defeat into all the world. He probably never saw Jesus work a miracle, but that didn't matter.

He still died full of faith and hope because he knew that in that child, learning to walk, learning to talk, in that child who hugged him and liked to rub his face in Joseph's rough beard, in that child who ate at his table and looked so peaceful sleeping under his roof, in that child who played with abandon and prayed with glee, in that child God had come to be with us, to save us. And so Joseph closed his eyes in peace and opened them in heaven's light only to be embraced by his child, his Jesus.

While on earth, Joseph had cared and provided for the Child and now in heaven the Child of Mary would forever care and provide for him - the Child, his Jesus, had built a lasting home for his foster-father and for all who welcome Him into their lives.

Joseph lurks in the background. But how our Lord loved his earthly protector and provider! You and I often know what Joseph felt like. We're background people, too, for the most part. Maybe often overlooked and forgotten, just doing the tasks the Lord has given us to do. That's okay. There's one who doesn't overlook or forget. One who loves us. One who is waiting to welcome us home. The Child who was born of Mary, nurtured by Joseph; the Child who by his cross and resurrection has built and opened wide for all who trust Him - great and small alike - an eternal home. There's a reason he was the Carpenter's son. Amen.

1 comment:

Jimbo said...

For tomorrow's winkel, I'm transferring St. Joseph's day... and I got to thinking, in many ways he does provide a good model for us pastors. Believing what God's Word tells him that the woman he is to care for is not a sinner (and even when he had thought she was a sinner, he does not broadcast the sin publicly, but looks to deal with it quietly). Raising the family in the fear of the Lord, getting them to the festivals. Taking them away from those who would take their life. Like Joseph, pastors care for those who are not their children, but God's, as if they were our own.
And yes, sinner too, for Joseph sinfully worries about that Child when He is in the House of the Lord.
I know there's something in the connection between Mary and our mother the Church too, but I haven't quite put it into words yet.

Btw, a few months back I read that "Physician, heal thyself" comment in Nazareth might have been aimed at Jesus because he was going around healing all sorts of others, but was "powerless" in the face of Joseph's death. fwiw.
thanks for this devotion