Monday, November 8, 2010

The Two Josephs

I have an endless fascination with the two Josephs and the three Marys in the Gospels. I swear that a week doesn't go by when these significant men and women of the Bible don't cross my mind. I'm constantly googling information about them, though I'm not quite sure where I'm going with it. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks about this because I stumbled upon this little poem recently which stoked my interest even further:

How Life and Death in Thee
Thou hadst a virgin Womb
         And Tomb.
A Joseph did betroth
        Them both.

Both at Jesus' birth and death we can find a Joseph on hand waiting. Silent but important figures. One helped Jesus out of a virgin womb while the other placed Jesus in a virgin tomb. The Bible makes these two points clear - the virgin womb of our Lady and the unused, virgin tomb that our Lord was placed into at death by Joseph of Arimathea.  There are a number of interesting parallels here which have given me much food for thought. There are even more than this but I thought I'd start here:

- One Joseph prepared a place for his birth - one Joseph prepared a place for his death.
- They both cradled his swaddled body.
- A virgin womb - a virgin tomb ( The Bible clearly states that this was an unused tomb.)
-  Jesus was born in a cave ( grotto) and his body at death was also placed in a grotto.
-The word grotto comes from the word crypta (vault, cavern) which ultimately comes from the Greek word  krypte - "hidden place".

Both the virgin womb and the virgin tomb were sealed. They were "hidden places" where 2 of the great mysteries of our faith took place. In both these places God changed the course of human history. In Jesus' birth, when the virgin womb was opened, we see that Divinity has descended to humanity. In Jesus death and burial we see that, when the virgin tomb was opened, humanity was lifted to the divine. Both are "clean" births, untainted by sin. The "new Eve" and the "new Adam"  have rewritten history.  We can now enter heaven, it is a rebirth for all humanity. In Baptism we were all buried with Christ and through his death and resurrection we may enter into eternal life. I often wonder if God placed the second Joseph at Jesus' burial for the very reason of pointing out the similarities between his birth and death and what these mean for mankind. We only have to look around the earth to see that God likes to speak through symbols. We see this in the Bible, too, which is rich in symbolism.

 During Baptism we are sealed in Christ.
Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible mark of his belonging to Christ (CCC).
 " Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life."             Rom. 6: 3-4

Don't even get me started on the three Marys. I filled a couple pages of a notebook on them.



  1. This is very thoughtful Mary. Thank you very much. Very good points made here.

    I look forward to your post on the three Marys.

    God bless you.

  2. Mary, I like how you share on the two. Yes, quite interesting. Blessings to you dear one.

  3. Mary, this is fascinating! Maybe you could do a series on the three Mary's. I'd love to find out what you've learned about them!

  4. Food for thought, Mary. Thanks!

  5. Very nice comparison! I hadn't thought about these parallels before. I hope you publish your thoughts on the three Mary's.

  6. Thanks for your comments, everyone! If the Bible is divinely inspired there is a reason things were placed where they were. According to the early Church Fathers, Jesus was born in a cave that was used as a stable and caves were often used as tombs, too. It made me think of how apparitions of our Lady often take place in grottoes (grottos? whatever). Early writings have suggested that Joseph of Arimathea was a relative of Mary and Jesus which I found interesting.

  7. Paramedicgirl,
    Thanks! I will - once I sort it out a bit :)

  8. Your post got me thinking, what does "Joseph" mean? I found that it means "he will increase" from the Hebrew yasap meaning to add, increase, do again. I'm not sure how it fits with this lovely meditation you gave us, but it's interesting that a Joseph was present at the beginning and the ending of Jesus's life.

  9. Barb,
    I looked this up, too. The Joseph story gets REALLY interesting when you throw in the Joseph from the Old Testament also. Too big to tackle- though I like how the Old Testament foreshadows the New.

  10. I never thought of this before. Thanks for a great post and food for thought!

  11. This us sooo interesting. Wow! There is never an end to what we can learn from the gospels.

  12. To the contrary, please go right ahead and start those three notebooks! This is a great post and I'd LOVE to read what your thoughts are on the Three Marys...might I inquire if that has something to do with your profile name?

  13. Hi Judy! Thank you for your comment. No, it doesn't have anything to do with my profile name but I'm still fascinated with the 3 Marys :) The 333 after my name is a story in itself but it basically is a reminder to me of God's mercy and the words our Lord gave to St. Faustina in her Diary (page 333)about His great mercy.