Friday, May 1, 2009

May 1st is St. Joseph.

I loved this excerpt from Caryll Houselander via Magnificat. She speaks of Joseph, the "just man," who is so often portrayed as the gray-haired, impotent, doddering old husband of a limpid-in-blue Mary. The Gospel portrait of this strong man, champion of justice is other:

"That which in our eyes seems unjust is often the extreme logic of love which is justice. It seems unjust to us, when young men in the Maytime of their lives, and often the gentlest of them, must go to war and be slain, when the poet must die with the poem still in his heart, the lover with his love still unconsummated [and surely this was Joseph, husband of the ever-virgin Mary].

"But it is Christ on the cross who dies all their deaths. In him, in the Word of God's love, all poetry is uttered; in him, Incarnate Love, all love is consummated. On the field of Calvary, the battle between love and death is fought which restores the kingdom of heaven to the children whom Satan has despoiled."

She goes on, and I, too, could go on. These few words on justice are my only response to all those "hot-button" questions: homosexuality, contraception, abortion, just war theory, the principle of subsidiarity. All the hard, moral questions lose their angst for me before the figure of Joseph, the silent one who "does such violence to himself" for the sake of the weak. All our various difficulties have no power over us under the shadow of the Cross, which finally made sense of Joseph's own sacrifice. Alleluia!

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