Armodoxy for Today: On Earth as Heaven
Two Josephs are remembered by the Armenian Church today. If the life of Jesus were on a set of books on a shelf, these two Joseph would be like bookends on both sides of his life. One is referenced at Jesus’ birth, as St. Mary’s husband and the other Joseph, following Jesus’ death on the Cross, comes from Arimathea to retrieve the Body of our Lord for proper burial. (Matthew 27:57)
In the Armenian Church calendar, St. Joseph, the husband of the Asdvadzadzin, St. Mary, is given the descriptor, “Father of God” (Hovsep Asdvadzahayr). In Western Tradition, St. Joseph is the patron saint of adoptions, after all, he adopted our Lord Jesus Christ and raised him as his own. We know he was a carpenter, and we can imagine warm images of the young boy Jesus running around the shop that was filled with wood and tools, learning the carpentry craft from his father Joseph.
Joseph was an upright and righteous man, scripture says. He was firm in his Faith. Most importantly, he was a man who loved, cared for, and honored his wife so much, that he believed the seemingly impossible: she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Despite the social stigma and the public embarrassment and humiliation that was a certainty during that time, he took Mary as his wife and adopted Jesus.
Joseph gives us a very special example which we need to adopt in our lives. When we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We ask that God’s Will be evident in our lives, here on earth. The reason Jesus instructs us to pray those words is not because God needs to hear that we want His will to be done. Rather, it is for us to understand that the way His Will is done in this world is through our participation. Joseph understood that if God’s Kingdom were to come, his participation was essential. And so, against all the odds, against the conventions and norms of the day, against the impossibility of a virgin birth, against the put downs of gossiping mouth, and humiliation by members of his own community, Joseph says, “Thy Will be Done” and obediently follows the order to take Mary as his wife.
Some of the difficult solutions to the problems in this world begin by us simply accepting the responsibility to be a participant in God’s Kingdom. Joseph gives up his comfort and his dreams to ensure the Kingdom in enacted, “on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
Let us pray, from a traditional prayer dedicated to the Blessed husband, “Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. Amen.
Cover: St. Joseph with the young Jesus. This statue was photographed at the Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles, California.