We all know the story of the Angel’s annunciation to Mary and her generous response. The ‘fiat’, Mary’s yes, is an example for us of how to listen and follow God’s will. But today we want to turn our gaze to Saint Joseph and remember that there was also an angel’s annunciation to him, before which the sacred Scriptures did not record a verbal response, but a simple and direct act: “he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him” (Mt. 1:24). And so, without having a single word recorded, we know Saint Joseph as the just man, who fulfilled the Lord’s will at all times.
The Holy Father, Pope St. John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation (Redemptoris Custos #25), speaking of St. Joseph under the heading: “Primacy of the interior life”, says: “The same aura of silence that envelops everything else about Joseph also shrouds his work as a carpenter in the house of Nazareth. It is, however, a silence that reveals in a special way the inner portrait of the man. The Gospels speak exclusively of what Joseph ‘did.’ Still, they allow us to discover in his ‘actions’ – shrouded in silence as they are – an aura of deep contemplation. Joseph was in daily contact with the mystery ‘hidden from ages past,’ which ‘dwelt’ under his roof. This explains, for example, why St. Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to St. Joseph in Western Christianity.”
From the preceding, we can clearly understand that Joseph’s silence is not mutism; it is a silence full of listening, an active and laborious silence, a silence that makes his great interiority emerge. That Jesus grew up in this “school of St. Joseph,” should not be surprising to us because the Scriptures speak of him seeking spaces for silence during his earthly ministry. Luke 5:16 speaks of Jesus often withdrawing to lonely places to pray. Other scriptural passages that reflect this reality are Mt 14:23, Luke 6:12-13, etc. He also invited his disciples to have this experience of silence and contemplation, as we see in Mark 6:31.
How wonderful it would be if each one of us, following the example of Saint Joseph, managed to recover this contemplative dimension of life opened up precisely by silence. But we all know from experience that it’s not easy in this modern age: silence scares us a little because it asks us to go inside ourselves and find the truest part of ourselves. Many people are afraid of silence, they must talk, talk, talk, or listen to noises emanating from their communication gadgets, interrupting the peace of those around them, but they cannot accept silence, because they are afraid. The 17th-century philosopher Blaise Pascal remarkably said: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” To achieve great virtues, we must cultivate silence – as St. Joseph Marello affirms: “In silence, men of great virtues are formed.”
Let us, therefore, embrace this virtue of silence by returning to the “School of St, Joseph” and imploring his intercession. Through the intercession of St. Joseph, may we be influence by the virtue of silence, in a world that is often too noisy, that does not favour meditation or listening to the voice of God. Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?
Very encouraging piece! Thank you padre.