In this “Year of St. Joseph,” I have considered the way in which the patriarch of the Holy Family might reflect on some of the Psalms, these fundamental prayers of Judaism as well as Christianity. Psalm 27 has a verse that captures my imagination:
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple. (Ps 27:4)
How might Joseph have prayed and meditated on this Psalm? He knew what the angel had told him about Jesus. He had undoubtedly spoken with Mary on this matter numerous times. Although no human mind can grasp the absolute truth of Jesus, Joseph knew that, in some way, he welcomed the Holy One into his home.
Joseph “dwelt in the LORD’s house” all the days of his life with Jesus and Mary.
He “gazed on the LORD’s beauty” each of those days.
He “visited the LORD’s temple” whenever he talked or walked or sat with Jesus.
Joseph could not help but think and rejoice in the truth and realization of the Psalm in his life. He experienced the fulfillment of the promise of this prayer.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend years in some of the great cities of the world—New York (my home), Washington, Rome, and Paris. The wonderful and eye-catching elements of these cities reveal many reasons why people visit them. They certainly impressed me! However, I got used to them. I could pass through some of these places without ever looking up or to the side. (Now, I would love to see them again.) This does not happen simply with structures, but also with people. I become so familiar with seeing and living with some individuals that I do not give them the attention that they deserve. When I think about it, I know my error and my fault. Perhaps it is a blessing that I do not see my grandnephews and grandniece as often as I might. Now, when I see them, I am lifted up by their beauty and fascinated by their interests. They capture my attention for hours
My point leads to this thought. What was it like for Mary and Joseph to live with Jesus everyday? What a blessing for them and how ordinary was it (in the best sense of the word/Word) for them to love and live with him? (Does Mary’s expectant remark to Jesus at the Wedding Feast of Cana reflect a mother’s normal confidence that her son will be attentive to what she says? I am betting “Yes.”) Perhaps, Psalm 27 became a regular part of the reflection and celebration of Joseph and Mary.
How about us? Would the lessons of Joseph remind us to seek a closer relationship to the Lord? This would be true of our worship in Church, but also of the way in which we acknowledge and are uplifted by the Lord’s revelation in the beauty of the created world as well as in other people. Our families can become places of that special awareness. Those with whom we work and serve can invite us to recognize the God who becomes manifest in them. Psalm 27 directs our attention to this important desire and hope. We want to dwell in the Lord’s presence and sometimes that happens when we open our eyes and ears, not to mention our hands and hearts. Vincent repeatedly reminds us of the way in which those who are poor reveal the Divine to us.