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St Joseph Flower of Jesse

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St Joseph Flower of Jesse

San Jose’ Flor de Jesé 💮 (St Joseph Flower of Jesse)
“... Matthan the father of Jacob; and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.”
Matthew 1:16 (Genealogy of Christ)
“O flower of Jesse, standing as a sign among the nations; before whom kings keep silence, for whom the nations long; come and liberate us and delay no longer.”
The third of the “O Antiphons” (December 19)
“Drop down dew, O heavens from above, and let the clouds rain the just; let earth be opened, and bud forth a savior...”
Isaiah 45
“A shoot shall sprout from the stock of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.”
Isaiah 11
I’ve wanted to do a symbolic painting of Joseph all during “his year;” the past 8 December 2020 to this year, the same day. I think this desire came during the summer when we had months to go of the year Pope Francis dedicated to Joseph’s guidance, to Joseph’s way. I’ve already mentioned that I’ve been studying Scripture, especially a beautiful book on Isaiah by John Sawyer, and 3 books on St Joseph; by Fr Andre’ Doze, Fr Michel Gasnier, OP, and the Life of Joseph by Maria Cecilia Baij, OSB. I have often thought about Mary before she met Joseph ( I have a similar idea for a painting of her, if I ever get to do it...) and especially her relationship to God during those years. I wanted to imagine Joseph in the same way and portray his gradual awakening to what God was creating inside him.
Technically Jesus is the Flower of Jesse, through his lineage from Joseph, which goes back to Jesse, the father of King David. In my heart and mind Joseph is a bud or flower too, on the family tree of Jesse.
In my time with the people of Taos, Northern New Mexico, I learned that hollyhocks are called “Varas de San Jose’” or Staff of St Joseph. This is a reference to a legend about the choice of Joseph to be betrothed to Mary. Many young men were hoping to be the husband of Mary and they all came together to the Temple in Jerusalem. Each one was given a branch and asked to lay the branches down as a prayer, and asking God to show by a sign which young man He had chosen. The priest’s of the temple were all waiting for a clear sign. Joseph’s staff or branch flowered and that’s why he’s usually portrayed with this flowering branch in one hand . So I imagined a kind of “interior vision” given in prayer to Joseph of a hollyhock springing from water in the ground with many buds unopened, and one blood red one, just opening to Joseph, as a symbol of his life’s vocation. In the background is the mist of the Holy Shekhinah descending and ready to envelop Joseph with God’s love. The Moon too, a symbol of the Mother of God, is not full but also awakening to the fullness of the future Messiah. This past year I’ve thought of Joseph every day and have loved thinking of him always by my side. I wanted to thank him through this image and I hope that you find something here to bring him closer to you.
Fr William Hart McNichols 💮 December 2021