11 – 19 March 2023
When I was visiting our Mill Hill house in Rome a few years ago, I was struck by the image on the wall of the chapel behind the altar. It is a mosaic of St. Joseph surrounding the tabernacle that is built into the wall of the chapel. The reason it struck me was because, in our popular understanding, we do not usually associate St. Joseph directly with the Eucharist or the Blessed Sacrament.
But is there a direct connection? Why surround a chapel tabernacle with a mosaic of St. Joseph, rather than a more “obvious” figure, such as Jesus himself, or even his Blessed Mother, Mary?
Whatever was intended by the artist himself (who happens to be the nephew of our current Procurator in Rome), I would like to venture what such an image sparks in me as I ponder the mystery of St. Joseph’s role in the Incarnation. In this image, I see St. Joseph as taking Jesus into his very self, in just the same way Mary did at the Annunciation. It is curious that the tabernacle itself is in the very same position on St. Joseph as the womb is on a woman. Is St. Joseph also “pregnant” with Jesus?
In a very real way, yes! St. Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus contains a long genealogy of the ancestors of Jesus, beginning with Abraham, continuing through David and the Exile to Joseph, who is later addressed by the angel as “Son of David”. It was expected at the time that the Messiah would be the direct descendant of King David, so St. Joseph’s choice to accept Jesus as his son would place Jesus’ messiahship within that direct line – even though Joseph would have played no physical role in his conception. In giving his son the name Jesus, he is also publicly accepting Jesus as his own.
By accepting the boy as his son, and symbolically taking on the father’s role of naming the child, St. Joseph gives Jesus all his ancestors, regardless of the biological facts.
So often, St. Joseph has been seen as the “silent partner”, the foster father whose only main role is to protect and nurture the young, growing Jesus towards adulthood. But the image on the chapel wall in Rome has shown me that St. Joseph’s role was far more crucial than that.
In addition to being Jesus’ earthly father, he was also the resolution of the divine paradox of Jesus as Son of Man and Son of God. To be the Messiah, Jesus had to be rooted in the Jewish tradition as a Son of Abraham and a Son of David. To be our Saviour, Jesus had also to be Son of God. Thus, St. Joseph’s role in the birth of Jesus was just as important as was the role of Mary.
Thank you all so much, once again, for your continuing generous support of the annual Novena to St. Joseph. Your support and your prayers do very much help the work of the Mill Hill Missionaries, both at home and abroad.
Through this Novena of 2023, may St. Joseph’s example inspire us to bearers of Christ’s light and love to a troubled world.
The Novena Director, MHM Novena Director
Sending in your Petitions……….
You are invited to send in your petitions, which will be placed at St Joseph’s Altar during the Novena to be remembered in the Masses and prayers. If you would like to have your deceased relatives and friends remembered or if you have any special intentions, please list them on the enclosed slip and return them before the start of the Novena. Thank you so much for supporting our missionary work in previous years with your prayers, your letters of encouragement and your contributions.
All donations towards our work are gratefully received. Could you please make cheques payable to ‘St Joseph’s Missionary Society’. Thank you.
Requesting a Booklet………
If you would like receive a Novena Booklet by post to enable you to join us from home by praying the daily Novena, please write to the address below, enclosing a stamped self addressed envelope if possible.
6 Colby Gardens,
Berkshire, SL6 7GZ.
For more information on Mill Hill Missionaries, visit www.millhillmissionaries.com
Registered Charity Numbers 220G90 & SC039809
Live Streamed Mass
Our Novena Masses will be available to view on Zoom, via the St. Joseph’s Parish website, https://stjosephsparish.co.uk/.
Saturday 11h March at 10 am
Sunday 12th March at 11 am
Saturday 18h March at 10 am
Sunday 19h March at 11 am
Monday – Friday, 13 – 17 March, at 7.30 pm