Joseph, the praise and glory of the heavens,
Sure pledge of life, and safety of the wide world,
As in our joy we sing to thee, in kindness
List to our praises.
Thou by the world's Creator wert appointed
Spouse of the Virgin: thee he willed to honour
Naming thee father of the Word, and guardian
Of our salvation.
Thou thy Redeemer, lying in a stable,
Whom long ago foretold the choir of prophets,
Sawest rejoicing, and thy God adoredst
Humble in childhood.
God, King of kings, and Governor of the ages,
He at whose word the powers of hell do tremble,
He whom the adoring heavens ever worship
Called the protector.
Grant us, great Trinity, for Joseph's holy sake,
In highest bliss and love, above the stars to reign,
That we in joy with him may praise our loving God,
And sing our glad eternal strain.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only as regards the throne will I be greater than you Gen 41:40So what are we to make of St. Joseph? With such scant mention in Scripture how can we truly come to know the man and saint? While true there are only a few verses dedicated to Joseph, we will find that more has been revealed to us about him than may appear at first glance. The entirety of Holy Scripture is one. From the first verse of Genesis to the last “amen” of Revelation, the same mystery of redemption is revealed; at first veiled in a few prophetic words, on which hung the faith of the patriarchal Church; then illustrated by types and allegory both in persons and actions.
And she called his name Joseph, saying, "May the LORD add to me another son!" Gen 30:24
It is the allegorical sense with which the Fathers viewed the Old Testament. And it has been found often that the easiest way to convey a truth is to veil it under the form of an allegory or type. Thus, St. Paul tells us that the whole course of sacred history has the double sense of allegory and example.
The early Church viewed the Old Testament Patriarchs as foreshadowing the Savior – each resembled more or less the Son of God in His humanity, and each was endowed with graces and offices which foreshadowed the Messiah. The Church has also seen them as types of the great saints who followed Christ in so far as they resemble Him.
In such manner, the patriarch Joseph has a special likeness to that of Our Lord, and has many points of resemblance to that of St. Joseph. Indeed, the Church has long presented the life of the patriarch Joseph as an illustration of St. Joseph the husband of Mary.
Being our good teacher, the Church has long appointed the Homilies of St. Bernard on the patriarch Joseph to be read on the festival of the saint. Thus, Holy Mother Church places before us, her children, the patriarch as the type and likeness of the saint. Such a homily is presented below.
Homily by St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Hom. 2 super Missus est
Joseph's character and qualities can be deduced from the fact that God honored him with the title of father, and, although his doing so was a mere matter of convenience, this was what he was known as and believed to be. Joseph's own name, which as you know means "increase," supplies further indications. Call to mind the great patriarch of old who was sold into Egypt, and you will realize that it was not only his name that our saint received but also his chastity, innocence, and grace.
His brothers' envy had caused the earlier Joseph to be sold and taken to Egypt, thus symbolizing the selling of Christ: the later Joseph carried Christ into Egypt, fleeing before Herod's envy. The former Joseph kept faith with his master and would not become involved with his master's wife, while his namesake faithfully protected his own spouse, the mother of his Lord, acknowledging her virginity and remaining continent himself. The first Joseph had the gift of interpreting dreams: the second was given a revelation of the divine plan and a share in its accomplishment. Joseph the patriarch stored up grain, not for himself but for all the people: our Joseph was given custody of the living bread from heaven to keep safe both for himself and the whole world.
There is no doubt that the Joseph to whom the Savior's mother was engaged was a good and faithful man. He was, I say, the wise and faithful steward whom the Lord appointed to support his mother and care for himself in childhood, singling him out for his complete reliability to help him with his momentous plan.
Added to all this, scripture tells us that he was of David's house. Joseph was obviously of David's house, a true descendant of the royal line, a man of noble birth and still nobler disposition. That he was David's son was seen from the fact that he in no way failed to maintain his standard: he was a true son of David not only as regards physical descent, but also in his faith, holiness, and devotion. In him the Lord found, as it were, a second David, a man after his own heart, to whom he could safely confide his most holy and secret design. To him as to another David he revealed the unfathomable, hidden depths of his wisdom, and granted him knowledge of that mystery which was known to none of the princes of this world. In a word, that which many kings and prophets had longed to see and had not seen, to hear and had not heard -that was granted to Joseph. He was allowed not only to see and hear him, but also to carry him, guide his steps, embrace and kiss him, cherish and protect him.
It is not only Joseph, however, but Mary as well whom we believe to be a descendant of David, for she would not have been engaged to a man of David's line unless she herself had been of that line. Both of them, then, belonged to David's family, but it was in Mary that the oath which the Lord had sworn to David was fulfilled, while Joseph was privy to the promise and witnessed its fulfillment.
Posted by PBS at 10:28 AM