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#AceChristmasNews – 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 mezzotint
Unfortunately very little is know about St Joseph but what a holy man he was! As we saw in yesterday’s reading, He was of the genealogy of King David. In today’s reading we see how respectfully Matthew writes about Joseph. As he was engaged to Mary, she was found, quite unexpectedly, to be pregnant. But Joseph, ‘being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity’, planned to dissolve his betrothal quietly. An angel appeared to him and joyfully explained what the situation was: do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. What we see on full display in Joseph is how understanding, considerate, compassionate he is towards Mary, even before Jesus was born.
One of the many reasons why I personally love Saint Joseph is that he was a carpenter.
As I was a furniture expert at Sotheby’s specialising in 18th century French furniture, I love the art of carpentry. Patience and careful planning are needed. I can well imagine how Joseph lovingly showed Jesus how to make a chair, how to select the right woods, how to cut everything to the perfect size so the table could fit together, etc… This would have been a very valuable education for Jesus: learning a trade with patience, loving the myriad of different woods nature gave us, creating new models, charging honest prices, delivering in time, etc…
So today we look at a print after a painting by William Holman Hunt set in St Joseph’s workshop.
Hunt perfectly understood how Jesus as a carpenter’s son would have used spent a lot of his life being surrounded by hammers and nails… the same tools that crucified Jesus on the cross. Whilst the figure of Jesus is not the most appealing depiction of Jesus, the main feature of this composition is Christ’s shadow. The outstretched arms of Jesus cast a shadow upon the wooden tool rack on the wall behind him. Thus, Christ’s crucifixion is prefigured within the natural setting of the workshop. A woman is seen looking at the shadow, whilst opening a chest revealing Jesus’ kingly crown.
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