Blog Template Theology of the Body: St. Joseph, Custodian of the Lord

Friday, March 19, 2010

St. Joseph, Custodian of the Lord

On today's feast of the foster father of God incarnate, the Church turns her mind to the quiet obedience and custodianship of the chaste carpenter to whom God entrusted Himself. 

It's this theme of custodianship that stands out most to me; St. Joseph is the patron saint of the dying, but his role as caretaker of Jesus and Mary- a Son who was not his own, and a woman espoused not to himself, but to the Trinity- instantiates the underlying theme of our living too. We are a people who ultimately control and own nothing of our own; all those things for which we care merely pass through our hands until our days are over, to be handed on as the fruits of stewardship to those who will take over next. Whether our Creator is honored  by our temporary handling of His life in us is all that really matters. And to embrace this understanding is a humble thing, on the model of Joseph's own anonymity and humility. 

But there is another side to our humble story too. We are a people entrusted.  Against the late 17th century innovation of monergism, we recall on feast days like today that due attention to God's Incarnation requires that we acknowledge all that He deigned to receive from His creature, and from whom He received. The all-sufficient Creator of the universe, who needs nothing, responding to no exigency, made it the case that He was nourished by a woman and protected by a man. And so it is for all the baptized that we too are a people to whom God has entrusted Himself for nourishment and protection, in the persons who are weaker and more in need than we are, and in all the persons to whom we owe our care; as St. Benedict put it in his explanation of why strangers are owed hospitality, "Christ, who is received in you, shall now be adored."
And in this way, God honors us greatly.  May St. Joseph pray for us as we too care for our Lord, in His people.