Mystical nurturer: rooted in the Holy Family

….Joseph disappears at the same time as Jesus and Mary or, rather, Jesus and Mary disappear thanks to him.  He is hidden and he hides.  His name is the present participle of the Hebrew verb meaning “to increase” and “to cut off”.  The two meanings of the word fully interplay: Jesus will “increase” in Joseph’s safekeeping, he will increase astonishingly; “Jesus increased in wisdom, and in years, and in divine and human favor” (Luke 25:2).  Joseph has the authority to do that (we know that the root of the word “authority” is precisely “to grow”).  But truly, what first strikes us about Joseph is a certain way of “cutting back”, of taking away.  He takes away the incarnation from our view….“The apostles are lights to show Jesus Christ to the world; Joseph is a veil to cover him and, behind this veil, are hidden Mary’s virginity and the greatness of the Savior of souls”.

To hide, to cover, to take away, by removing the child entrusted to him by the Father from a hostile and immature world: that is the first strong impression the gospel makes on us when we are searching for Joseph.  But let us not forget the essential.  Surprised by the events, Joseph was ready to separate, and how painfully so, from his young fiancée, unique of her kind, whom he undoubtedly had known for a long time and who must have inspired in him the kind of love we can imagine.  But how could he, the poor man, be involved in circumstances which were totally beyond him, where he felt the finger of God?  Without that, since he was “a righteous man”, as Scripture tells us, his duty was to denounce Mary. 

This tragedy and the agonizing pain accompanying it, no doubt, provide the angel with the opportunity to make an astonishing revelation: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20)…..The fact that Joseph was preparing to say “no” to a mystery which was beyond him and of what he felt himself unworthy, is significant.  God invites him to pronounce, with his whole being, a silent “yes” which echoes throughout eternity….  Andrew Doze “Joseph: Shadow of the Father”

El Greco

El Greco


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