The Shadow Saint; March 19 is all about St. Joseph
By Larry Peterson
All humankind contributed to the death of Jesus Christ. That is why God sent Him to us. Without the salvific actions of Jesus we would have been lost forever. He suffered and died for us because the love of God is so unfathomable it was the only way to give us all a second chance to grab onto the brass ring of Eternal Salvation. But first we needed a man named Joseph.
I call Joseph of Nazareth the “Shadow Saint” because so little is known about him. There is not one spoken word he ever said that was recorded. But his quiet life resonated like huge cymbals being smashed together over the ages and into our very 21st century existence.
Joseph was a Jewish man who possessed great faith and was considered ‘righteous’. He trusted God and took Mary as his wife even though she was pregnant at the time. She could have been stoned to death for the sin of adultery but her betrothed loved her unconditionally. He was a regular man and must have had doubts but he would never allow anything to happen to her. He cared for and protected his wife and “foster” Son from the moment God asked him. He loved them without reservation. Imagine the faith and courage that took. Imagine the love that flowed from within him.
Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, was obviously humble and egoless and gave of himself. He was a real MAN. And it was this man, this quiet, shadow saint who single handedly saved the life of our Savior from being put to death while He was still an infant. Imagine if he had not been able to accomplish this.
As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph confronted as Mary’s husband. He accepted her pregnancy at a time when the scandal of such a thing oftentimes meant execution for the woman. He was forced to put her on the back of a donkey and take her 80 miles over rocky, dirt roads to Bethlehem for the census. She was almost full term and the trip would have probably taken three to five days. I would have been sick to my stomach praying we could make it. Then, upon arrival, his wife goes into labor. There were no ERs, no cell phones, no 911 calls, no paramedics…you are on your own, end of story.
He was in a strange town without friends and could find no shelter. He was probably trembling and telling his wife, “Stay calm sweetie, it will be all right. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.” And he is forced to bring her to a dirty, smelly stable that is an animal shelter. Here she has to give birth to her child. As a man, he must have felt so inadequate, so un-manly. His heart must have been breaking.
The miracle of the Virgin Birth takes place and mother and child are fine. But then Joseph discovers that King Herod wants to kill his baby boy. Okay guys, think about it. You have made it this far and now you learn the army has been ordered to find your child and kill him. They are out in force searching for YOU and YOUR family. They are killing all boys two years old and under so as not to miss killing your son. But it is you and your wife and child they want. Those other children are ‘collateral damage”, an afterthought to Herod’s vicious orders. The fear and anxiety within him must have been overwhelming yet he did his best to maintain upbeat.
Somehow, someway, with his resolve of faith and trust in God propelling him forward, he made it to Egypt and saved his family. I have no idea how he managed to do it. Egypt was three hundred miles away but he got them there safe and sound. He saved not only the Redeemer of us all and the Blessed Mother, he made it possible for all of us to be saved too. Imagine that. And he never said a word we know of.
St. Joseph, thank you and please pray for all of us. HAPPY FEAST DAY
Copyright©Larry Peterson 2023