Joseph’s Dreams, Joseph’s Duties’, Joseph’s Death.
© Agnes Sam 2019
There are two events in which Joseph features that are unmarked in the Roman Catholic calendar.
Joseph is present in the stable in Bethlehem, and the Flight into Egypt from Israel when he takes Mary and the infant Jesus and flees to Egypt from Israel and across a wide desert.
In Egypt Joseph and Mary are exiles and refugees. In the graces and virtues Mary asks to be bestowed on those who pray for her sorrows are ‘generosity to the poor’.
Joseph is a carpenter. As a refugee and exile he may not have been permitted to work as a carpenter.
Of the two events in which Joseph is present but that are unmarked on the Roman Catholic calendar are:
- The Betrothal of Joseph and Mary.
- The Marriage of Joseph and Mary.
We are aware of the white lilies on Joseph’s staff. But when this occurs is unrecorded.
Joseph is silent, never silenced.
Joseph has dreams.
His dreams come at night.
In Joseph’s dreams he receives messages.
Joseph is obedient to the messages he receives in his dreams.
He does not question the messages in his dreams. He obeys them.
Joseph searches for a virgin whom he may marry.
Nevertheless he approaches the father of each virgin he seeks to marry, without a dowry.
The father of the virgin and the retinue that advise and accompany him and the men who have lavish dowries, are sympathetic to the man without a dowry.
They speak amongst themselves.
Does this man not understand the dowry system?
Does he not know he must bring a dowry to the father of the virgin he will propose to?
There are wealthy women who have inherited from their fathers that he could approach.
There are wealthy widows whose deceased husbands have left them their fortune.
Why does he not approach one of them?
Is he so handsome that his appeal will be his handsomeness?
They cannot understand Joseph and his lack of a dowry.
They refer to Joseph as the man without a dowry.
And on this day Joseph is present still in search of a virgin to marry.
Joseph does not know the name of the virgin, nor does he know who she is.
The Virgin’s father is a kind man. He is aware that his daughter wishes to remain a virgin.
His daughter has no desire to marry.
Nevertheless he is in a dilemma.
She is of an age where she should marry.
To withhold her from marriage would displease the family and the men who have come to propose to marry her.
There are wealthy men gathered around him with trays of cloth, boxes of jewellery, money, and gifts for the virgin.
And among them is the man without a dowry.
The virgin’s father is a kind man. He looks kindly at the man without a dowry and is amazed at his humility.
Joseph is cloaked with the virtue of humility a grace bestowed on him by the Holy Spirit but he is unaware of it.
The virgin’s father turns his attention to the humble man without a dowry and looks kindly at him. It is Joseph’s turn to be scrutinised.
Joseph smiles. He raises his staff to take a step forward. But when he places his staff on the ground there is an immediate display of pure white lilies that still bear his name.
All around Joseph the men are fearful.
The women who are veiled and the virgin, who is watching the proceedings from behind veiled faces and veiled windows, are also fearful.
And Joseph is most fearful. He does not know the meaning of this. He is filled with fear and trembling. He might even be in tears.
Who is this virgin?
Why has God shown his hand in the marriage of this virgin?
Why has he been chosen?
The assembly of men recognise Joseph as a holy man.
The virgin’s father ushers Joseph into the family house. Joseph must precede them.
The women bring the Virgin into the room. She throws herself at her father’s feet. She refuses to rise. She weeps uncontrollably. Her prayers to remain a virgin and never to marry have not been answered by God.
Joseph is afraid. He does not comprehend why God has given this sign of his hand when it is clear the virgin does not wish to marry. Who is this virgin?
And the virgin asks who is this man? Why has God chosen him to be my husband?
The virgin is Mary. She is on the ground weeping. The women of the house lift her up. She stands with Joseph and they are betrothed according to Jewish custom.
Mary will not be bought.
Mary will not be sold.