Thursday, 22 December 2011

Raising up the Temple and the Altar of God

The differing genealogies of St Joseph are intriguing, and various theories have been put forward to account for the differences. It has even been suggested that one genealogy is in fact that of our Lady. But that seems far-fetched. It seems more likely that Joseph had more than one ancestral line, and these have simply been recorded as they existed. The most reasonable explanation is surely the inclusion in one or other version - or both - of collateral ancestors who married widowed sisters-in-law.

However, the reason for this post is a passage I came across in the Book of Ezra. Following the return from the Babylonian captivity, among those entrusted with rebuilding the Altar of God and the Temple of the Lord, was one Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel. Hello, I thought, as I read this; I know those names. The first thing that came to mind was the genealogies of St Joseph; and the names are there, in both Matthew’s and Luke’s versions.

There is an inclination to think of artisans as somewhat down the social scale; an idea which I find very annoying, and it is hard to believe that this was the case in ancient times. I think it adds a background to St Joseph which sheds light on his considerable stature as a Jew, in addition to all that we revere him for in relation to his loving care for Jesus and Mary. It is a great and a noble thing to have as one’s ancestors those who built up the Altar and the Temple, and to be entrusted with an even more exalted work of raising up.

Picture from st-joseph-medal-com, via Google Images

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