A Brief Review of SAINT JOSEPH: THE FATHER OF JESUS IN A FATHERLESS SOCIETY
by Leonardo Boff.
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
I’ll be honest, I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book on St. Joseph, the father of Jesus, before, or even really thought too much about him. But now, thanks to Leonardo Boff’s new book SAINT JOSEPH: THE FATHER OF JESUS IN A FATHERLESS SOCIETY (Cascade Books 2009), I realize that Joseph is a significant figure in the life of the Church. Boff overviews the place of Joseph in the roles he played, in the text of the Gospels and Apocryphal literature and in the history of theology (there was basically no theological reflection on Joseph in the first 1500 years of the Church!). Having laid this foundation, Boff offers up and defends his thesis that Joseph is a “shadow” representation of , and thus that in the holy family, we have a representation (on different levels) of God the Father (Joseph), God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit (Mary). I’m not sure that I completely buy this thesis, but Boff has done his research well, argues persuasively for it and leaves me mulling it over. Certainly, there are reasons that his argument is compelling: viz., providing vivid imagery for the Trinity and the Church as family and defending the significance of families in human culture. Boff concludes with a striking “Prayer to St. Joseph,” which is worth quoting (in part) as an eloquent and concise summary of the book:
… Dear St. Joseph,
In your human face we see portrayed the face of the divine Father.
May He welcome us, protect us, and provide us with the assurance
that we walk in the palm of his hand.
Show us, St. Joseph, the power of your fatherhood:
Give us the determination in the face of problems,
courage in the face of peril,
awareness of the limits of our powers,
and infinite trust in the celestial Father.
THE FATHER OF JESUS IN A FATHERLESS SOCIETY.
Paperback: Cascade Books, 2009.
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