There are two Joseph’s in the Bible..
In the Old Testament Joseph is the overconfident young son of Jacob known to his older brothers as their father’s favourite. For this his siblings sold Joseph to slave traders, while telling their father that Joseph had been mauled by an animal.
Joseph was a dreamer, and had been given dreams of God’s plan for his life; so with confidence he endured this part of his life, remaining ever hopeful in realising the promises of God.
As you will recall either from the Bible or from the musical, the slave traders took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar. And though Joseph served his master well Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to serve her better… and sought to seduce Joseph. Yet, Joseph rejected her passionate advances and then facing her husband with false accusations made against him – Joseph is imprisoned. But once in prison, the true identity of Joseph continues to be made known, and the prison keeper befriending him learns of Joseph’s divine ability to interpret dreams. And so, in time, this gift helps Pharaoh decipher his dreams about abundant harvests and times of famine.
During the years of famine, Joseph’s brothers seeking food to sustain them and to keep their people from starvation inadvertently come to Joseph and not recognizing their young Hebrew brother as this matured and prominent Egyptian, as part of a deal, Joseph orders them to return with their younger brother. When the brothers returned with Benjamin, Joseph reveals his identity and of course immediately experience great remorse of their actions, Joseph forgives them and what follows is a joyous reunion between a grieved father and lost son.
And so we learn much from the Joseph of the old testament and his years of steadfast reliance on and trust in God.
Joseph of the New Testament who we celebrate in this Mass is of course best known as the husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus, and an account of him is found in the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke.
There are parallels in the two Joseph’s and obvious reconciliations in the new testament. Jospeh of the New Testament also dreamed dreams, and interpreted them correctly. He also didn’t seduce Mary… or engage her in scandal.
He, like Joseph was cut off from earthly inheritance and though being of the line of David, was but a humble carpenter. And yet, both come to hold great office. One in Egypt… the other, the step-father of God! (Not a bad job if you can get it).
Clearly Joseph is a person of integrity and ultimately comes to do what is right, relying on his insight of God’s plan of salvation to be worked out. We don’t know how long Joseph was in the life of Jesus. The last time Joseph is mentioned in the Bible was when Jesus was 12 years old.
Yet what we can know is that Joseph, was given and fulfilled the role of protector, provider and teacher, raising the young boy without reservation. He was faithful to, and trusted in God, and through his guardianship of God, he was enslaved as St Paul would suggest – to God’s saving purpose and life.
By remembering both josephs, we find that they simply had to trust, that even though life didn’t work out the way they expected, it did work out the way it needed to work out, not only to remind us that God is faithful but also, we can rely on God.
Through our close relationships with God we should not be afraid of the path set before us, but trust in the steadfast love of God to bring us into our true inheritance. God reveals through the Joseph’s that social position is of little importance to God, but we find greater meaning in life through our faithfulness to God and our insights of God’s word to us.
Of course I am going to say that God honours integrity, obedience, and faithfulness and your commitments to the faith, but moreso, just seek to be open to being where God calls us, will certainly mean that through all of the changing and challenging scenes of life, we will be where God wants us to be and where we are will be also where God’s Kingdom is being worked out.
Let us give thanks, that we are here, in the right place for now and that God is with us as we tend like Joseph to making God known through our love of Jesus.