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Joseph’s “Hiddenness” in Jesus’ Public Ministry (Part IV)

Calbayog City: After the Hidden Life of Jesus comes Jesus’ Public Ministry. But before proceeding to his public ministry, the Synoptic Gospels present Jesus being baptized by John in the Jordan River (cf. Mk 1:9-11; Mt 3:13-17; Lk 3:21-22). Gerald O’Collins, SJ indicates that the baptism of Jesus informs us of who Jesus is from God’s evaluative point of view that Christ is the Unique Son of God (cf. Mk 1:11b) and that he is anointed with the Spirit (cf. Mk 1:10) for a revelatory eschatological mission (cf. Mk 1:11c).[1] Being filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus was immediately led to the desert to be tempted by the devil (cf. Mk 1:12-13; Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-12). Emerging triumphant from the wiles of the evil one, Jesus began his public ministry by going to the synagogue of Nazareth in a Sabbath and read a text from the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."[2]


Central to the ministry of Jesus is the proclamation of the kingdom of God.[3] In proclaiming the Kingdom of God, Jesus accompanied his preaching with signs and wonders. However, it is noteworthy to mention that Joseph is nowhere to be found in Jesus’ Public Ministry. In fact, Joseph is not listed among the guests in the wedding at Cana (cf. Jn 2:1-11) which is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in the gospel of John. This shows that Joseph disappeared when Jesus matures and resumes in his ministry. Consequently, this absence leads so many people to ask: “Where is Joseph in Jesus’ public ministry? Did he already die?” Nevertheless, the gospels did not say anything about his death. But most probably as tradition says that he died sometime before the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.[4]


(Francisco Goya, “Sketch for the Death of Saint Joseph,” 1787)[5]


Joseph is traditionally invoked as the “Patron of a Happy Death” because he died gazing upon Jesus and resting in the arms of Mary. God has designated St. Joseph as the Patron of the Dying because he wants us to experience a death similar to that of St. Joseph, a holy and happy death. [6] But is his death really a “happy death”? Indeed, it is for St. Joseph. What greater death could a person experience being surrounded by loved ones! But, perhaps, it is not so for Jesus and Mary. In the “Sketch for The Death of Saint Joseph” created by Francisco Goya in 1787, he portraits an ailing Joseph lying in bed while standing beside is a youthful-looking Jesus and beardless with eyes looking intently on Joseph while Mary is sitting by the bed near Joseph. Whether we like it or not, death is not an easy part of life. Letting go and saying goodbye to our loved ones is not easy. A death of a loved one will always cause a pain in us. The Holy Family, then, is like many families today in this time of COVID pandemic: families who mourned for the demise of their loved ones; families who are weeping in silence and suffering in pain because they cannot give their last tribute to their beloved departed due to travel restrictions and health protocols. Their utter experiences do not usually appear in any news headlines, yet these are real events, so conspicuous that we sometimes simply ignore them. (To be continued...)

[1] See Gerald O’Collins, SJ, Rethinking Fundamental Theology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 121-3. [2] Luke 4: 16-21. [3] See Benigno P. Beltran, SVD, The Christology of the Inarticulate: An Inquiry into the Filipino Understanding of Jesus the Christ (Manila: Divine Word Publications, 1987), 181. [4] See Calloway, Consecration to St. Joseph, 206. [5]Francisco Goya, “Sketch for the Death of Saint Joseph,” (1787), https://www.google.com/search?q=Francisco+goya+the+death+of+st.+joseph&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwivhYCh4pPwAhWrIqYKHXyfD-MQ_AUoAXoECAEQAw&biw=1517&bih=676#imgrc=k0LrZn-6dj5woM (accessed: 23 April 2021). [6] See Calloway, Consecration to St. Joseph, 71-2. See also Catechism of the Catholic Church (Manila: Word and Life Publications, 1994), nos. 1014.

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