St. Joseph – Luke 2:51a

51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them.

Origen: Jesus frequently went down with His disciples, for He is not always dwelling on the mount, for they who were troubled with various diseases were not able to ascend the mount. For this reason now also He went down to them who were below.

Greek Expositor: Sometimes by His word He first institutes laws, and He afterwards confirms them, by His work, as when He says, The good shepherd layeth down his life for his sheep [John 10:11]. For shortly after seeking our salvation He poured out His own life. But sometimes He first sets forth in Himself an example, and afterwards, as far as words can go, draws therefrom rules of life, as He does here, shewing forth by His work these three things above the rest, the love of God, honor to parents, but the preferring God also to our parents.

Bede: What is the teacher of virtue, unless he fulfill his duty to his parents? What else did He do among us, than what He wished should be done by us?

Origen: Let us then also ourselves be subject to our parents. But if our fathers are not, let us be subject to those who are our fathers. Jesus the Son of God is subject to Joseph and Mary. But I must be subject to the Bishop who has been constituted my father. It seems that Joseph knew that Jesus was greater than he, and therefore in awe moderated his authority. But let every one see, that oftentimes he who is subject is the greater. Which if they who are higher in dignity understand, they will not be elated with pride, knowing that their superior is subject to them.

Gregory of Nyssa: The young have not yet perfect understanding, and have need to be led forward by those who have advanced to a more perfect state; therefore when He arrived at twelve years, He is obedient to His parents, to shew that whatever is made perfect by moving forward, before that it arrives at the end profitably embraces obedience.

Basil: From His very first years being obedient to His parents, He endured all bodily labors, humbly and reverently. For since His parents were honest and just, yet at the same time poor, and ill supplied with the necessaries of life, (as the stable which administered to the holy birth bears witness,) it is plain that they continually underwent bodily fatigue in providing for their daily wants. But Jesus being obedient to them, as the Scriptures testify, even in sustaining labors, submitted Himself to a complete subjection.

Ambrose: Can you wonder if He who is subject to His mother, also submits to His Father? Surely that subjection is a mark not of weakness but of filial duty.

Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. III (London: Rivington, 1843).

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