When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. Matthew 1:24
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. Matthew 1:19
Ask anyone in my family to describe me and I bet the word “quiet” wouldn’t pop up, except as a joke. I’ve always been loud, freely shared my thoughts and opinions, and been quick to complain to others if I feel I’ve been wronged.
Joseph isn’t that type of guy, though. Matthew 1:19 tells us that Joseph was a righteous man. He respected the law and customs, but also respected Mary, even though for all appearances she had done him a massive wrong. He planned to divorce her quietly. He didn’t want her to deal with public disgrace. I know if I had been in his situation, I wouldn’t have been so forgiving or thoughtful, but I guess that’s why I’m not a saint yet!
I think it is because of all our differences that I often rely on St. Joseph in prayer when I need the strength to be a better person. He has so many of the virtues that I lack. One of
my favorite facts about Joseph is that he doesn’t have any lines of speech in the gospel. Not much of scripture talks about Joseph. In fact, he disappears altogether after the finding of the child Jesus in the temple. Despite how little he appears in scripture, there is a great deal we can learn from Joseph, the first of these being quiet.
Very soon we will be surrounded by family to celebrate Christ’s birth. Maybe this will be family we haven’t seen in a long time. Maybe it will be family that drives us a little crazy or that we disagree with on political, religious, or social issues. It can be easy to launch into the story of our lives over the past year, or into arguments over who is right and who is wrong, but if St. Joseph teaches us anything, it is that sometimes the best kind of love is a quiet love.
By quiet love I don’t mean not asserting and defending your beliefs. I do mean engaging in calm conversation, not complaining in the kitchen or over text message about certain family members who annoy you. I mean listening to others with quiet contemplation. I mean hearing what people have to say. I mean saying only what is good and loving. If there is someone who does wrong to you this holiday season, I hope that St. Joseph will help you to address it one-on-one with the person quietly. As St. Joseph found out, maybe they didn’t actually do anything wrong!
Another thing about St. Joseph that we can learn, is doing what God asks even when it is hard or seems wrong. Joseph had every right to divorce Mary, according to the law. It was, in fact, what he planned to do. Joseph was doing Mary a great kindness by planning to do it quietly. But the Lord intervened and commanded Joseph to take Mary as his wife and raise Jesus as his own. What bigger job could a father have? He essentially adopted and raised the son of God. His life could’ve been free from odd looks and this seemingly impossible task, but Joseph did what God asked even when it seemed against what he should do, even when it seemed hard, even when it seemed impossible, and he did it all with quiet love.
This Christmas season I know I’ll be praying to St Joseph a lot. I hope he’ll give me the strength to have quiet love. I hope he’ll give it to you too.
Reflect: What are some practical examples of quiet love? How would you have reacted if you were Joseph finding out about Mary’s pregnancy?
Act: Today be awake of how often you speak. Try to practice being quiet and listening to others more than usual.