St. Joseph and True Humility | February 28, 2021 Essay
Have you ever seen this “quote” before?
It refers to the fact that Joseph, Mary’s husband, is never quoted as saying anything in the Bible. I usually just chuckle to myself and move on when I see it on stickers, shirts, etc, but during this year of St. Joseph (which was declared by Pope Francis back at the beginning of Advent), I decided to stop and look more deeply at this “quote.”
It is easy to brush off Joseph’s lack of speech as just a silly factoid, but why, when so many others are quoted in the Bible, does Joseph not speak once? It is not like we know nothing about Joseph. We read many things about his life in the Bible, such as his angelic dreams and his presence at many events in Jesus’ early life. There is also much written about Joseph outside of the Bible. If you want one example, look at Pope Francis’ apostolic letter “Patris Corde” which was written at the start of the year of St. Joseph and speaks about Joseph at length. However, nothing we know about Joseph is revealed to us through his own words.
I am reminded (ironically) of a different quote. It is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” St. Joseph embodies this idea perfectly. He does not need to give speeches to tell people how much he loves God and his family—his actions speak for themselves.
In a recent Lenten youth group meeting, we discussed what humility truly is. We said humility is not obsessing over the wrong you have done or putting yourself down. True humility is active and brave. A person who is humble prays, listens, and reflects on God’s will for her life and then does it, even when it is not easy or what she initially desired. When Joseph heard the angel in his dream telling him to take Mary as his wife, he did not beat himself up that he had almost left her or ignore the angel because he was afraid of what others may think of his family. Instead, he took this new knowledge from God and humbly accepted and acted on it. When Joseph heard in a dream to take his family to Egypt to protect them, he did not grumble that his life did not turn out how he may have planned or, out of fear of the unknown, stay put in Bethlehem to see what other people thought of the command to go to Egypt. Instead, he recognized that God had a bigger plan for his life than he may have had for himself and he listened and went to Egypt. He humbled himself to actively and bravely do the will of God—preaching his faithfulness through his actions rather than his words.
During this year of St. Joseph, it is my goal to embody his quiet humility—to do what God wants of me and let my actions speak for me more than my words. Throughout the rest of Lent and the rest of this year of St. Joseph, I encourage you all to join me in praying for St. Joseph’s intercession for the courage to live a holy, humble life.
St. Joseph, pray for us!
– Nicole Bedard, Director of Religious Education