When you think of imagination you may think of a child pretending the be an astronaut, an athlete visualizing making a goal, or a student daydreaming during class. But our imagination isn’t just for fictions and fantasies. It can be a powerful tool to gain insights and understanding of Scripture and the person of Christ.
In this month’s installment of “19 on the 19th,” a series that brings you 19-minute reflections on St. Joseph each month, Father Matthew Spencer, OSJ continues his 3-part series on the Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph. And he introduced this segment by noting that getting to know St. Joseph requires that we use our imaginations.
After all, St. Joseph doesn’t actually say anything in Scripture. He participates in the major events of Jesus’ young life, but he’s only present for a sliver of the Gospel story. In fact, Fr. Matthew pointed out that the four Gospels that tell us about Jesus’ life don’t tell us every detail. Compare the length of the Gospels to The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia and you’ll see that they are pretty succinct.
“Sometimes we would like to know more about the life of Jesus,” Fr. Matthew admitted. “Sometimes we wish there were details for us to reflect upon. But the Gospels leave a lot to the understanding of the faithful Christian. We read them and we have to read between the lines of what the evangelists are saying, because they’re very terse in what they write.”
But not having every detail doesn’t mean Scripture is lacking anything. After all, the account of Christ’s birth comprises only a couple chapters of the Bible. Yet look at how rich our celebration of Christmas is.
“We sing Christmas carols, we reflect upon what the angels proclaimed to the shepherds, we ponder what the shepherds themselves experienced in their hearts,” Fr. Matthew noted. “There is an unending fountain of reflection that you and I can find inside of Scripture. Isn’t that amazing? It’s so simple, and it’s rather short. And yet there is so much we can glean from it. So much we can learn from it.”
Though we may not know what St. Joseph felt or said at the Nativity, at Jesus’ circumcision, or when he heard the prophecy of Simeon at the Presentation in the Temple, our imagination allows us to place ourselves in the Gospel scene, and meet St. Joseph there.
“It’s very helpful, as we pray the Seven Sorrows and Seven Joys of St. Joseph, that we don’t just read the words,” Fr. Matthew said. “That we don’t just complete the prayers. But that we also spend time pondering what these events in the life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph must have been like. And therefore, what do they mean for us?”
Learn more about the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph by listening to or reading the full “19 on the 19th” talk below: