A Saint’s Day Today?

Today is the feast day of St. Patrick. “Of course,” you say, “Everyone know that March 17 is St Patty’s day!” Lesser known is the fact that the Roman Calendar also observes today as the Feast day for Joseph of Arimathea.  Now he is the man who the bible suggests begged the body of Jesus and prepared it for burial.  He is the Patron of Funeral directors and pallbearers for various reasons.  Lesgend has it that he brought the boy Jesus to Cornwall and/or Somerset one or more times. This is the legend that lent itself to William Blake’s Poem Jerusalem. This hymn is known to us Anglicans in the Hymn, “And did Those Feet in Ancient Times.”  John’s gospel suggest that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus. Indeed we see a man painted in scripture as one who cared immensely for Jesus. I was doing some internet reading about Joseph yesterday. The most interesting reading was from the “Gospel of Nicodemus.  In that Gospel it is reported that Joseph was bound and held after the burial of Jesus for his strong support of Jesus. Here is an excerpt where Joseph having escaped captivity after from the elders explains how it happened;

“On the day of the Preparation, about the tenth hour, you shut me in, and I remained there the whole Sabbath in full. And when midnight came, as I was standing and praying, the house where you shut me in was hung up by the four corners, and there was a flashing of light in mine eyes. And I fell to the ground trembling. Then some one lifted me up from the place where I had fallen, and poured over me an abundance of water from the head even to the feet, and put round my nostrils the odour of a wonderful ointment, and rubbed my face with the water itself, as if washing me, and kissed me, and said to me, Joseph, fear not; but open thine eyes, and see who it is that speaks to thee. And looking, I saw Jesus; and being terrified, I thought it was a phantom. And with prayer and the commandments I spoke to him, and he spoke with me. And I said to him: Art thou Rabbi Elias? And he said to me: I am not Elias. And I said: Who art thou, my Lord? And he said to me: I am Jesus, whose body thou didst beg from Pilate, and wrap in clean linen; and thou didst lay a napkin on my face, and didst lay me in thy new tomb, and roll a stone to the door of the tomb. Then I said to him that was speaking to me: Show me, Lord, where I laid thee. And he led me, and showed me the place where I laid him, and the linen which I had put on him, and the napkin which I had wrapped upon his face; and I knew that it was Jesus. And he took hold of me with his hand, and put me in the midst of my house though the gates were shut, and put me in my bed, and said to me: Peace to thee! And he kissed me, and said to me: For forty days go not out of thy house; for, lo, I go to my brethren into Galilee. (Gospel of Nicodemus, translated by Alexander Walker)”

Indeed we know that Joseph had a love for Jesus. Today we might like to take a minute – perhaps after a green beer and a toast to St. Patrick, and reflect on that love and dedication that Joseph of Arimathea had for Jesus, and ask ourselves if we too are in love with the Lord so much that we might risk being imprisoned for doing that which is right. It seems to me that Joseph’s Feast Day may be a little more apropos for Lent then the modern day debacle we call “St. Paddy’s” Day.  [One of my pet peeves is seeing that on a sign – the name is Patrick – i.e. Patty not Paddy!]

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