19/March/2009 Filed in: Jottings
Solemnity of St Joseph. Whilst chopping onions this morning, I reflected that during the Middle Ages St Joseph was generally portrayed as a slightly comical figure. In the slapstick scenes of mystery plays, he was the elderly cuckolded husband, the butt of many a ribald remark. Scripture does not tell us that St Jospeh was old, only that he was remarkably open to the Holy Spirit, a man of honour, a descendant of David; we are surely meant to see a parallel with the Joseph of the Old Testament in his chastity, in his dreams, and in his care for the Son of God, whom he took to Egypt to preserve his life. From there it was but a short step (and another onion) to consideration of two further Josephs, or rather, Josefs, Pope Benedict XVI and Josef Fritzl. The link between the two may seem curious. Pope Benedict always wears a pectoral cross and when in procession carries not a crozier but a Cross, an image of our crucified Saviour. It is a reminder that where the Lord Jesus has gone, we must follow, even though it be to a shameful and painful death. And Fritzl? I was struck by a photograph of the Austrian courtroom where he is being tried. In front of the presiding judge is a cross, possibly a crucifix, with two lights on either side. In the midst of the most appalling darkness, even the unimaginable horrors of Fritzl's cellar, we find the Lord. It isn't a comfortable thought. It is deeply shocking and I suspect I'll spend the rest of today trying to figure out its meaning a little more clearly.