Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Chartres 2018: Meditations (8)

Joseph contemplates Jesus through Mary


Dear pilgrim friends!

We walk under the patronage of St. Joseph, and now we look at him as a model of contemplation. We must start from a simple idea; man is a contemplative animal. Gifted with intelligence, he can know the truth. And speaking of the gift of grace, of active living faith, he can know Christ who is the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Well, Saint Joseph fulfilled that ideal of life: He contemplated Jesus through Mary.

Major ideas

• At the beginning of Joseph's contemplation, there is a great human love for Mary.
• The contemplation of Saint Joseph goes through 3 stages; test, acceptance, reward.
• Two major qualities of Saint Joseph; a man of his word, and a silent man.
• Joseph teaches us to see how the will of God is fulfilled in the
course of events.
• Joseph contemplates Jesus in Mary, then with her; Nazareth, Bethlehem.
• Joseph transmits (to the shepherds, to the magi) He whom he has contemplated with Mary; the Saviour.
• Light, glory and sword; presentation and flight to Egypt.
A love that fears losing God, seeks him, and finds him in fidelity to the duty of his state;
• The Finding in the Temple, and the hidden life in Nazareth.
• At the end of his contemplation; the arrival in heaven of Jesus and Mary.


At the origin of Joseph's contemplation, there is a great human love.
Joseph is a righteous man and a "poor man of God". He practices the Divine Commandments internally and externally. He devotes himself to the craft of carpenter, helps the poor according to his means, and practices great piety. Here he is seized by the discreet grace of Mary, daughter of Anne and Joachim. Collected, smiling, kind ...
"Yes, she is not indifferent to me ... Yes, I love her." Their exchanges pass from family news to the things of God. Human love is developed into true spiritual friendship.

"Dear Mary, I prayed a long time, questioned your parents... Do you agree... Would you like to become my wife?

"Dear Joseph, I must confide a secret to you; I dedicated myself to God in virginity.”

"To be honest, I am not surprised. Do you want to protect this secret, this consecration, by a virgin marriage?

Yes, I do want to do that."

The contemplation of Saint Joseph; test, acceptance, and reward

• What test? The test of total faith, of the abandonment of human security, the confusing path of Providence. Mary returns from Elisabeth's house; Joseph finds that she is pregnant.

Now, what is to be done? How may he:
  1. Keep Mary close to him?
  2. Avoid shame and public condemnation, the accusation of adultery? 
  3. Follow the plan of God in this unforeseen circumstance?
  4. Reconcile law and love?

• What acceptance? "O my God, you ask me to give up the one I love most - I offer this sacrifice to you." He chooses to separate from Mary, but in secret.

• What reward? His mission is confirmed! "Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife..." Husband of the Mother of God ... "What is in her is of the Holy Spirit! She will give birth to a son, and you will give him the name of Jesus, because it is he who will save his people from their sins." Guardian of the Incarnate Word, saviour of men!

Joseph, man of silence and speech

Joseph's silence ... That's what he teaches us most importantly! Silence is a favourable condition for God's approach. Before God, three times Holy, transcendent, our poor human words are extinguished ... Joseph shows us that to find Jesus, we must enter the dark certainty of faith. (See teaching on silence in the liturgy).

Joseph before Mary, "the living tabernacle"

"Behold, the Virgin is going to conceive and she will give birth to a Son, and he will be called I-manu-El, God with us" ... With the words of Isaiah, Joseph contemplates the grave beauty of the pregnant Virgin. The Incarnate Word confuses all pride, being a small embryo, not disdaining the breast of a Virgin (Te Deum)! This is how God loved men (Jn III, 15)!

The plan of God is fulfilled in the humble thread of events: On the way to Bethlehem!

"The Son of David must be born in the City of his father, because he is the heir to all promises," said Joseph to himself ... And this hidden and carried King Messiah will be gentle and humble, he comes to evangelize the poor (see Isaiah, Ch 11, 42 and 61). "Yes”, he thinks, “God speaks in events. This decree of the Emperor for the census is a sign that we are fulfilling Micah's prophecy.” Joseph contemplates the wisdom of God in his Providence.

In Bethlehem, the mystery wrapped in silence ...

In the midst of silence, in the night, Joseph and Mary fall to their knees and adore this child who is given to them ... Almighty God... "Wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger". Joseph contemplates with Mary. The eyes of both are turned to Jesus. Their two hearts and their two voices murmur with respect the revealed Name; "Jesus - God saves"... This same name still murmured by our brothers of the East, even in persecution; by so many lips repeating the Ave Maria. This vision of Joseph and Mary, of the nascent Church, is already missionary, preacher. They associate the shepherds and the magi with it, as ambassadors of all the pagans who will then "want to see Jesus"!

The light, the glory and the sword: The presentation at the temple 40 days later, in Jerusalem.

In the temple, the priest presents Jesus to God in the first "elevation". Then old Simeon announces the sacrifice of Christ and the union of Mary to this sacrifice. Yes, Jesus, to be light and glory, must be the host of a sacrifice. Joseph guesses that he and his wife must be associated with the sacrifice of which they come in some way to perform the offertory.

Fleeing the sword that will kill the Holy Innocents, Joseph "saves the Saviour"! He makes possible this future Passion, which he will not see with his eyes.

Anguish of the loss, and life hidden in God

After the return to Nazareth, Joseph sees Jesus grow and strengthen, in size, in grace, in wisdom... Human life is thus very great, since it was thus touched, sanctified, redeemed by Jesus! "The humble life / boring and easy work / is a work of choice / which requires a lot of love" (P. Verlaine) ... because it is the work of the God incarnate.

At the age of 12, Jesus is lost and found during the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover. Three days of anguish! The emotional reunion, the tender reproaches of the mother, the deep response of Jesus are a real lesson of prayer! One can love God and live in his presence without always feeling it.

Is it that the eyes of our heart are still dimmed? Can self-love still prevent us from hearing and accepting the words of Jesus: "Why seek me? ... I must be about my Father's business"?

In three years in Paradise. Joseph's death, between Jesus and Mary

"My Lord and my son, remember me when you come to your Kingdom.Yes, it is close, the moment of being together in Paradise. There, Joseph, Patron of the Church, will present to the Saviour the souls he has mysteriously guided to Him under the gaze of Mary.

Dear pilgrims, with Saint Joseph, let us learn to be, more and better, contemplatives of Jesus; through Mary and with her!

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