The Sorrowful Mysteries in honor of Saint Joseph
In March the Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Joseph, the head of the Holy Family. Joseph’s greatness was manifested in his obedience to all the Lord asked of him, beginning with taking Mary as his wife, and naming her holy child “Jesus,” just as the angel had commanded him to do. March is also the time of Lent, when the Church recalls all that the Lord suffered for our sake. Though he did not live to see Jesus nailed to the cross, surely Saint Joseph pondered over and over again just what his adopted son might have to suffer in order to save us from our sins. The following meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are offered in honor of this great Saint. May he help us to grow in love for our crucified Lord and Savior.
1- The First Sorrowful Mystery is the agony in the garden. Jesus’ passion begins with the very real suffering of the spirit. It is night. The hour of darkness—in the apparent triumph of evil—is about to begin. The betrayer is on the way; Jesus’ true friends are fast asleep. The cup is incredibly bitter, still Jesus gives his perfect “yes” to the Father’s will. Adam’s disobedience is now undone by the new Adam’s act of immolation. You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
2 - The Second Sorrowful Mystery is the scourging. Jesus is scourged. His whole body becomes wounded and bruised. Here, in every laceration, is the Blood of the New Covenant being poured out for sinners. The Precious Blood. The Blood of the Innocent Lamb, the Lamb who atones for every sin that will ever be committed, the Lamb who restores friendship between God and man. You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
3 - The Third Sorrowful Mystery is the crowning with thorns. It is a gesture of utter contempt: Jesus is crowned with thorns and then repeatedly mocked by the soldiers. “Who are you, Jesus of Nazareth? A king? A king you say? The king of the Jews, ha!” Look at him. Look at the man. Look at the one who has become a plaything in the hands of evil men, the butt of coarse jokes. But in Jesus’ silence, love conquers; love reigns supreme. For it is the silence of one who truly forgives us, precisely in all our acts of contempt and pride. You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
4 - The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery is the carrying of the cross. Growing up as the son of a carpenter, Jesus was well acquainted with wood and nails, of carrying the wood, of plying the nails. The obedience of all those hidden, silent years, laboring alongside Saint Joseph, fulfilling the Father’s good pleasure, now blossoms in redemption, as Jesus takes up the cross. He carries it for you. He carries it for me. He carries it for each and every person who will ever live. You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
5- The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery is the crucifixion. Pious tradition holds that Saint Joseph had a happy death, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Now it is Jesus’ turn to “pass over” from this earth to his Father’s house, supported by his most loving yet sorrowful Mother. It is an agonizing death, yet one pregnant with joy. For through his sacrifice, Jesus will “put to death” death itself, and make it possible for us to enjoy—as one incredibly huge, and yet intensely happy and holy family—eternal life in heaven. You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.