|Presentation at the Temple by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, 1342|
Joys and Sorrows - I
To think about the life of Saint Joseph is to discover a life full of joys and sorrows. the Lord teaches us through the life of the Holy Patriarch that true happiness is never far from the Cross. If we bear that suffering and trial with supernatural spirit, we will soon be rewarded with clarity and peace. With Christ at our side, sorrows turn into joys.
When Mary his mother had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. (Matt 1:18) Joseph ... loved Mary with a pure and deep human love. Yet he felt obliged by his upright conscience to follow the Mosaic law in this regrettable situation. In order to protect Mary from public shame, Joseph decided to put her aside privately. This was a most painful test for both Joseph and Mary.
[First Sorrow and Joy]
Just as his sorrow was great, so was Joseph's joy immeasurable when at last he was shown the ways of God's Providence ...
We can learn from Joseph's first sorrow and joy that the Lord will always enlighten those who seek him with a clean heart. God's light can shine through the most perplexing situations imaginable.
And it came to pass while they were there, that the days for her to be delivered were fulfilled. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger... (Luke 2:6-7)
[Second Sorrow and Joy]
We can imagine Joseph going from door to door in search of shelter and hospitality for his pregnant wife ... What must this terrible experience have been like for Saint Joseph? What were his feelings at the sight of his weary wife, her clothing travel-stained and every feature proclaiming her utter exhaustion? ...
All of this anxiety and suffering was quickly forgotten from the moment Mary held the Son of God in her arms. Saint Joseph realized that the Son of God was now his son as well. He kissed and worshipped him...
This alternating sorrow and joy should teach us that serving God is worth the effort, even though we will encounter difficulties, and perhaps poverty and pain.
And when eight days were fulfilled for his circumcision, his name was called Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:21) ... The actual ceremony was sometimes performed by the father.
[Third Sorrow and Joy]
... The name Jesus means Savior; it had been chosen by God himself and communicated through the message of the angel ... It was the desire of the Holy Trinity that the Son should commence his salvific mission on earth in suffering. It would seem fitting that Joseph was the one to inaugurate the mystery of the Redemption by shedding the first drops of his Son's holy blood. This blood would yield its full effect in the awful context of the Passion. The Child who cried upon the receipt of his name had thereupon begun his work of salvation.
Saint Joseph ... was well versed in the Scriptures and he knew, if only in an imperfect way, that there would come a day when his Son would have to shed his blood even to the last drop. Joseph was filled with joy to carry the child in his arms and call him Jesus ...
[Fourth Sorrow and Joy]And when the days of her purification were fulfilled according to the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. (Luke 2:22) ... When Joseph heard the prophecy of Simeon, surely a sword must have pierced his heart as well.
On that day in the Temple Joseph and Mary were given a more profound insight into the mystery of the Redemption which their Son would bring to completion. Saint Joseph was now able to understand a little better. He made this suffering his own...
Alongside this pain there was, of course, the joy of the impending universal redemption.