Saint Joseph gave his worries to God and fell asleep instead. God took care of all the rest!
Two years ago, at the Easter Vigil, I listened to the priest’s homily during Mass and learned – for the first time – of the sanctity of the sleeping Saint Joseph.
Pope Francis is devoted to the sleeping Saint Joseph and apparently keeps a statue of the Sleeping Saint Joseph on his desk to remind him to trust in God – and for great reason!
Saint Joseph must be the very holiest of Saints. After all, it was Saint Joseph who kissed the HOLY FACE OF GOD and kissed the HOLY FACE OF HIS CHASTE SPOUSE each day! For in being with them and living with them, how could he resist their LOVE?
Saint Joseph is very rarely mentioned in Sacred Scripture. There are very few references to him in the Bible at all, and when he is mentioned in Sacred Scripture it is usually in connection with his dreams, of which there were four documented in the New Testament.
Our Blessed Mother SAW the Angel Gabriel. He appeared to her and we remember this apparition and the action of the Holy Spirit in His Handmaiden in the Angelus… “The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary: And she conceived of the Holy Spirit…”
Saint Joseph’s experience with the angels was very different. He never SAW them. He DREAMED of them instead!
In his first dream, the Angel said… “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid.” (Matthew 1:20). And so, Joseph – not understanding how it could be that his betrothed had conceived without knowledge of a man – married her. He was NOT and idiot. And yet, a woman who he did not live with told him that she was a pregnant virgin whose child would be the Son of God the Father and a product of the action of the Holy Spirit, and he believed her… because an angel told him to in his sleep. Just thinking about that is AMAZING. Saint Joseph changed the whole course of his life marrying someone with a completely INSANE story and believing in that story, based on a voice that he heard in his dream while he was asleep…
In the second dream the Angel said… “‘Get up!’ he said. ‘Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the Child to kill Him.’ So he got up, took the Child and His mother by night, and withdrew to Egypt,…” (Matthew 2:13). HE GOT UP. He moved COUNTRY. He became a REFUGEE. He left his business, his work, his friends, his village, his neighbours, their extended family (who were surely expecting to be available to support Joseph and his new wife Mary in raising their child), based on a voice he heard in his dream while he was asleep.
In the third dream the Angel said… “‘Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.’” (Matthew 2:20). And so, again HE GOT UP, took the Child and His mother and returned to Israel. He left the life he had established for his family. His Holy Foster Son was twelve years old. Twelve years is a long time to live in one place. In twelve years you make friends, settle into your home, establish your work and business. After twelve years you are getting older. It is harder to start again with work and family and friends. But HE GOT UP. He moved COUNTRY… AGAIN. He left his business, his work, his friends, his village, his neighbours based on a voice he heard in his dream while he was asleep.
And the fourth time, Saint Joseph was “…warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:22-23). He even changed his route based on the voice he heard in a dream.
And because of his utter faith in God, because of his holiness in following the word of God, delivered by God’s messenger – the angel – in his dreams… “So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets…”
If only I could be like Saint Joseph and listen to God as He sends His messages to me in my life!
In the story of Saint Joseph, the important thing to understand is not that Saint Joseph HEARD the voice of the angel… the important thing to understand is that he LISTENED to that voice!
In this, the year of Saint Joseph, on this feast day of Saint Joseph, I pray that when I next have a problem in my life that I will simply go to sleep, like Saint Joseph. Please God let me sleep so that I shall – by some miracle of Grace and no merit of my own – be able to LISTEN!
My prayer is that if I try very hard to sleep – through me, God’s will might be fulfilled!
For with silence, trust and sleep, we can listen, and God will give us rest where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.