Saint Joseph: A Man of Few Words

Gospel Reflection, Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A
Matthew 1:18-24

Saint Joseph: A Man of Few Words

How many recorded words do we have of Saint Joseph in the Bible?  Zero!  And yet Joseph is the man closest to Jesus.  Saint Joseph, therefore, shows us that silence is often a lot more powerful than talking.  Without Joseph, God’s plan of redemption could not have unfolded in the blessed way that it did.  But Joseph was a man of intense silence who we could surmise was just as content to let the focus be on Jesus and Mary. 

God speaks the language of silence.  “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), the Bible teaches us.  God’s action in our lives is gentle, tender, and subtle like the morning dawn that comes.  I remember my own ordination.  After preparing for that great day for many years, the only things I really said was, “present” and “Amen.”  For a husband and a wife, it is often true that they need not say anything, but simply be in each other’s presence to experience their love for each other.  Being present becomes more important than doing or saying because their love for each other is understood and shared.

In our gospel on this 4th Sunday of Advent, Joseph is perplexed.  He is afraid of the scandal that Mary’s pregnancy would cause.  He thought she became pregnant by another man and he did not want to expose her to the shame that this would cause.  So he decided to divorce her quietly.  But in the silence of a dream, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and reassured him to take Mary as his wife.  He did as the angel commanded him under the very extraordinary circumstance of Mary being pregnant.  He could not have understood this!  But yet he was faithful.  What extraordinary faith!  But the faith that he had would not have been possible without listening to his God.

Then, Christ came to the world in the silence of a night in the land of Israel.  Our gospel accounts of the Nativity scene do not record any words spoken by Joseph or Mary once they found a place to lay their son.  Saint John of the Cross comments, “The Father spoke One Word,” which was his Son, “and this Word He speaks always in the eternal silence and in silence it must be heard by the soul.”  Saint Joseph, then, teaches us the value of silence during this season of Advent.

Take some time to be still before the Lord.  It is not too late!  I wish you all a very beautiful Christmas.


Father Tony