What can you learn from a man who says nothing in the entire Bible? It turns out we can learn a great deal from his silent example and the symbols of his biblical and tradition based stories handed down from the Patriarchs. For this reason he is a patron saint of my family and our little Blue Knight Evangelization club.
St. Joseph was a carpenter, and it is this trade he passed down to his son. Working with wood is one of the oldest traditions of mankind. In the Garden of Eden we began this tradition of working with wood through the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. Working with first gave us the fruit of unity with God, and the later one’s fruit planted inside us the seeds of pride to create our fallen world.
The Tree of Life required no pruning or sacrifice to care for it or provide for our souls. Once the world fell though, God needed to send his son to set things aright. The job required Jesus to use the materials, tools and symbols we humans could grasp. As partakers of the Tree of Knowledge we humans always look for God to symbolize rewards for good behavior by showing us the “land of milk and honey.” Overturning our fall from grace could not however come without sacrifice and correcting the pride from the fruits of Knowledge.
So enter into this story a carpenter. A man who sizes up a tree, cuts it down, cures it, and then crafts it with man made tools to provide necessities of life. A carpenter will build tools, homes, carts, and hundreds of other items to ease our daily burdens to give us a better life. Yes the carpenter kills a tree to provide us a better life. It is the way of things in a fallen world.
It was the carpenter St. Joseph who provided Jesus with the earthly skills and tool set to make the very cross he will carry to Calgary. In the Jewish tradition it would be St. Joseph who introduced Jesus to earthly scripture (remember Jesus was there when they wrote it in the Trinity), apprenticed Jesus, brought up in the knowledge of Jewish ritual, taught Jesus the culture of the world he lived in when they went to market or met customers, and ensured Jesus had a sound domestic church with his wife Mary . St. Joseph was responsible for introducing Christ to the complete earthly tool set needed to communicate with the world the message of salvation.
Being the faithful and obedient son, Christ learned his lessons well. This is why Christ took the dead wood of the cross, a barren man formed tree as his greatest tool. While the Romans saw it as a tool for a public belittlement of men to keep their earthly power over a population, Jesus had other ideas. Jesus took the dead tree and used it to pass through to eternal life. Through his death he obtained the glorification briefly glimpsed at the Transfiguration for all eternity. In this act he corrected the error of Adam and Eve, and showed us our personal path to redemption.
Through the works of a child, we get a glimpse of the qualities of the parents who raised them. Although St. Joseph never said a word to us in the Bible, the impact he had a profound impact on the life of Jesus. Looking for guidance in his example and patronage for our families can greatly advance our spiritual lives towards the Tree of Life.
ANCIENT PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH
Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires.
Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.
Please visit The Catholic Company to see more about this prayer.