Amidst the great events of Christmas and Easter two people, whose words the Scriptures do not recount but their choices, deeds and care, stand in the background.
Both were righteous men from remote villages awaiting the Kingdom of God.
One recognized in Jesus not the fruit of a betrayal but God who had chosen to dwell among us, the other recognized in Him not a criminal but the Lamb of God who had offered Himself to redeem the world.
One went beyond the Law that authorized him to repudiate his fiancée in order to welcome the baby on the way, the other violated the prescriptions of ritual purity, entering in the palace of the foreign, pagan and occupying Roman governor, handling the corpse, in order to take care of passed away Jesus.
One found a cave just outside Jerusalem where Jesus could be born, the other offered Him a cave just outside Jerusalem so that he could be buried.
One wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and handed Him to Mary, the other wrapped Him in a shroud and placed Him in His mother’s arms.
One guarded Jesus when the mighty of this world sought Him to kill Him, the other when they left after they had killed Him.
Joseph of Nazareth and Joseph of Arimathea are, with their concrete, strenuous and hidden work, sign of the Father’s love for the Son. When followers and detractors were already or still far away, both were there, present and available, to play their part.
When Jesus took His first breath and when he gave up His spirit, father’s hands, rough and tender, took care of his fragile and helpless body. Not even an instant did the Father abandon Him.
The Father keeps calling so that His care for His children does not cease, as a mother cannot forget the child she has generated.
Everyone, and especially we who wish to be companions of Jesus, are called to be fathers: “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Lk 6:36).
As fathers we are called to make the Father’s life our own, to allow ourselves to be transformed into His image, to offer others the same kind of love He has offered us, beloved children.
As fathers we are called to incarnate that merciful love which for a wounded and hungry brother goes beyond the precise norm of justice.
As fathers we are called to open our hands to our brethren to support and give, our minds to listen and console, our hearts to welcome and let go.
As fathers we are called to offer that immense freedom, compassion and generosity the Father has shown us through the life and person of Jesus.
Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father. (Jn 14:8-9a)