The sword of Sorrow in the hand of St. Joseph
“Arise and take the child and his mother and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him” (Mtt 2:13). This announcement in the middle of the night, some several months after the birth of Christ, came as terrible shock to Joseph.
It ended the joys of Christmas and commenced the fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy that “this child is set for the fall and the rise of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed” (Lk 2:34-35).
Mary, the all pure victim, could not, no more than Christ, sacrifice Herself. The Father who sent His Son to earth to be sacrificed, sent Joseph to pierce Mary’s Heart with this message that began a long series of sorrows. St. Joseph knew what he was doing. As he went to awake the sleeping child and mother, he could already see the sorrow in Her eyes and anticipate the searing pain of the sword he was to thrust through Her Immaculate Heart. There was nothing else to be done for God had commanded it through His angel. Time was of the essence for Herod’s men would be on the march at morning light.
The sorrows and pains of a long journey gave way to the difficulties of life and work in a foreign land. The sword that Joseph drove into the Heart of Mary turned continually in his own. His difficulty to provide adequately for his wife and son was his daily sorrow. The pains they suffered because they were out of the Holy land, weighed upon these pure souls of the highest sensibilities continually afflicted him. Yet he suffered in the company of Jesus and Mary, and he suffered their sorrows with them. He knew whom he served and this service, be it in the greatest sorrow, is joy and peace.
And so it is with us. Companions of Jesus and Mary, we drive the sword of sorrow into their hearts, not by prophecy, but by our sins and negligences. And should we be free of these, happy are we to share with Jesus and Mary the sorrows of the earth in its denials, sins and indifference.
To imitate St. Joseph, let us willingly share these sorrows in three points: 1) Many of our sufferings come from people around us. Let us not complain, but willingly bear the burden cheerfully.
2) Many of our sufferings come from our own sins and failings. Let us not be surprised, but bear them, knowing that in patience alone will we save our souls.
3) The interests and feelings of God must be ours. But God wills the salvation and sanctification of all. Therefore, let us acknowledge the sins of the world in earnest prayers for the salvation of souls.
St. Joseph, silent witness of the sorrows of Jesus and Mary, pray for us! Let us poor sinners cry out, Ave Maria!