The Dream of Saint Joseph,
Sculpted by Domenico Guidi (1625-1701),
Executed circa 1695,
Marble and gilt-bronze,
© Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome
The Dream of Saint Joseph
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.
Reflection on the Marble Sculpture
We are three days away from Christmas and our reading today focusses on St Joseph. We don’t know much about Saint Joseph. We know that he was a carpenter; his Father’s name was Jacob and that he lived in Nazareth where he was husband to Mary. He was a good man who followed the law. But probably the most interesting part of Joseph is that nowhere in the Gospels do we ever hear Jospeh speak. He doesn’t say anything. The Gospel writers never put words in his mouth. No, he is a man of action! He does what the Lord asks him; he does what the angel tells him; he does marry Mary; he does raise Jesus… He is man of action and less of words!
It is this element of ‘action’ what Christmas is about. It is wonderful to walk towards Bethlehem during this time of advent to ultimately find Christ’s shining light in three day’s time. But when we find that light, it should inspire us to do things, to achieve things for God, to actively participate in building His Kingdom here on earth.
The photo shows two religious sisters admiring a marble sculpture by Domenico Guidi at the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria here in Rome, depicting the Dream of Saint Joseph. Guidi produced a few works for Bernini (such as the Angel with a Lance on Ponte Sant’Angelo, Rome). In our sculpture today, we see the angel appearing amongst a burst of gilt-bronze sunlight. Saint Jospeh is taken aback wondering what is going on…Yes, he was surprised at what was asked of him, and he willingly accepted what was asked of him by God… In doing so, he became one of our most exemplary saints by being fully obedient to the Will of God…
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