This short essay is taken from the book, The Incarnation and the Exultation: An Advent Devotional. This devotional reflects on the scriptures of incarnation and exaltation in order to take you on a journey of thoughtful self-reflection. It is meant to draw you more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s coming into the world to help you walk your own inner path toward the season of Christmas. As you celebrate the coming of Christ into your lives during Advent and spend time reflecting on the readings in this devotional, may the light and love that entered our world lead you to the cross in wonder and thanksgiving. May you find joy and discover strength as you walk this wondrous journey to Bethlehem, always holding within your heart the image of the Hill of Calvary and the hope of the Age to come when Christ will return to call his people home!
Incarnation – When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife… (Matthew 1:24)
Exaltation – He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)
If we are looking for signs of God's love for us at Christmas, perhaps one of the most powerful and yet most overlooked is the silence of Joseph. Though he is spoken of in the Gospels, the Bible never records a word he said. We read of the genealogy of Joseph that links Jesus through the ages to the royal line of David. We learn that Joseph was a just man, unwilling to expose Mary to the authorities when he discovered that she was with child. When he received the message in a dream about the true origin of Jesus, he spoke not a word, but awoke, took Mary as his wife, and became the earthly father of Jesus.
Joseph, the silent saint, stands as a model for all who believe. He was a strong man of faith who was willing to accept his place in the story of salvation, to assume his role as husband and earthly father, and to place the will of God before all else. He considered what was right for the Kingdom of God and lived out his calling wholeheartedly. He was a hard-working man who passed on his wisdom and skills to his son, for both Joseph and Jesus were known as carpenters. He lived a simple life in an obscure town, yet heard the voice of God and made the difficult journeys to both Bethlehem and Egypt. And finally, he was a man who knew that he needed to let go of the child as he saw him in the temple going about his Father's business.
Joseph’s life stands as a powerful lesson for us all. His attitude of faith and solemn surrender to God's will is a sign of what it means to follow Jesus and what the coming of Christ at Christmas is all about. His silence speaks across the ages to all who are called to surrender their lives to the Savior, the One who came to call humanity to put the Father and the Kingdom of Heaven first. Joseph teaches us that Christmas ultimately issues a call to take up our cross and follow in the footsteps of the Lord.
Prayer: Father, may my heart reflect the faith I see in the silence of Joseph so that I may listen to the call of Christ to take up my cross and live as a true disciple…Amen!
Gentle Joseph, strong and silent,
Takes the Christ child as his own.
Worthy husband, faithful father,
Humble full submission shown.