A Just Man

The Gospels do not record one single word of his. However he had the unique gift of being in constant contact with the mystery 'hidden from ages past' and which 'dwelt' under his roof. His name was Joseph, the husband of Mary.

This explains why Saint Teresa of Jesus, the great reformer of the Carmelites, promoted the renewal of veneration to Saint Joseph in Western Christianity. She highly recommends him to those who want to take prayer life seriously. He is a sure guide in things spiritual, she says. And she claims that he is an expert in interceding and granting us the needs that we necessitate. Many times he helped her when she found herself cornered. She loved him so much that she insisted that the nuns leave the monastery gates in his care by putting his statue adjacent to the door.

Perhaps this explains the origin of these two stories.

Joe was a staunch devotee of Saint Joseph. He would constantly pray to Saint Joseph, he was always lighting a candle in front of his effigy in Church, and he would keep him in his conversation as much as he could.

Like everyone else, when this man died, he found himself at the door of heaven, in front of Saint Peter. Tradition has it that Saint Peter is the doorkeeper of heaven! The saint went through his books and he raised his eyebrows dejectedly because the only good thing in his favour was his devotion to Saint Joseph. "I am sorry. You have to go to the other side!" he finally had to declare.

The man however did not budge from heaven's door. He told Saint Peter, "Since I have come so far, would you please allow me to meet Saint Joseph in person?" Saint Peter was rather perplexed at this request but accepted it and had an angel sent to look for the saint. When Saint Joseph arrived and saw his big 'buddy' at the door, he was jubilant. "Come in, come into heaven", he wholeheartedly exclaimed. The man, whilst pointing at Saint Peter, answered: "I would love to, but he does not want me in." "Why?" Saint Joseph immediately enquired. "His whole life was a mess…" "So, what? What does that matter? He loved me so much!" "Yes, I know, but that is not enough," rejoined Saint Peter firmly. A blistering discussion ensued…

At a certain moment, Saint Joseph lost it and declared, "Listen, Peter. You either let this man in, without any ifs or buts or else I will take my wife and son and we shall leave this place…" Evidently Saint Peter had to give in at this threat!

The other story. Jim was well-known for inviting a poor family for dinner at his home every Christmas day. He would do this in honour of the Family of Nazareth. "There was no place for them in Bethlehem, so I shall make amends by inviting a family to spend Christmas with us." When he died, sure enough he found Mary and Joseph waiting for him at heaven's door. "You welcomed us many times at your place on our Son's birthday", said Joseph. "Now we welcome you ourselves at our place in heaven for ever". Love never goes un-repaid.

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.