Guest Columnists

Nativity Mystery Through The Eyes Of St. Joseph

By Msgr. Jonas Achacoso, JCD

Early in December, we will be closing the Year of St. Joseph. Just like so many partings, we may find ourselves with mixed emotions. One thing is for sure: This year of grace has blessed the Church and has enriched many lives spiritually. It also has fostered more devotion to the Patron of the Universal Church and the Master of Interior Life.

I unite myself with so many grateful hearts to thank Pope Francis for having established the first Year of St. Joseph. This has been a unique experience, partly in the sense that I cannot see such a convocation being repeated in my lifetime.

In my parish, we want to prolong a little further the theme of St. Joseph. The artistic team to set up the nativity scene is coming up with the idea to honor the man. So the plan is to set up the crèche in which the scenery and decorations therein would tell the story of Joseph, his life, and mission as the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus.

The intention is to set up the nativity which, as Pope Francis would put it, would be “like a living Gospel rising up from the pages of sacred Scripture.” Those who would be contemplating the crèche would be embarking on a spiritual journey. This time, it would be a journey with Joseph, whose manhood and fatherhood are great examples for our times.

St. Joseph, as a principal piece in the nativity story, is usually depicted with staff in hand or holding up a lamp. He is portrayed overseeing the whole mystery of Jesus’ birth. He is a descendant of the house of King David, putting Jesus in the Messianic lineage. He is a strong man, a guardian, and protector of his family.

The foster-father of Jesus takes care of the provisions for his family by his humble craft. There has been a discussion on what sort of craftsman Joseph was. There are many opinions out there.

For instance, there are those who say he was a carpenter, or a blacksmith making ploughs and yokes, or a builder. It may be said that Joseph was a professional handyman, just ready to serve the needs of his people in his times. In all probability, Joseph passed along to Jesus his craftsmanship—the techniques and secrets of the trade.

There are already fixtures in our crèche from last year which would tell the story of St. Joseph. The special feature envisioned this year is a little corner in which carpentry materials and tools will be on display. The real motivation is to engage the faithful in contemplation of the mystery of the birth of our Lord but, this time, from St. Joseph’s perspective. This grace-filled contemplation may not be possible only through glittery garlands and sparkling Christmas trees.

The spiritual journey of contemplating the nativity through the eyes of Joseph does not stop at Bethlehem. One can journey with the Holy Family to Egypt and Nazareth, where St. Joseph was to be the first teacher of Jesus as a boy and then as a young man.

Joseph treasured in his heart the great mystery surrounding Jesus and Mary.

As a just man, he entrusted himself always to God’s will, and put it into practice.

Msgr. Achacoso is the author of ‘Due Process in Church Administration’ (2018), recipient of Arcangelo Ranaudo Award (Vatican City), and Administrator of Corpus Christi Church in Woodside, NY.