Ite ad Ioseph

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Saturday of the Fourteenth Week of the Year I

Genesis 49:29-32; 50:15-24


Jacob's Repose

The death of Jacob the Patriarch plunges his sons into grief. Joseph, in particular, is affected by his father’s death. “Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him, and kissed him” (Gen 50:1). Jacob’s death becomes an occasion of national mourning. “And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days” (Gen 50:3).

Do Not Fear

Joseph’s brothers become unsettled and anxious. They fear that now with their father dead, Joseph will take retribution on them. They send Joseph a message asking for forgiveness. Joseph, whom we have seen weeping before, weeps again. The words that he speaks are among the most beautiful of the Pentateuch: “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones” (Gen 50:21).

The Two Josephs

The Patriarch Joseph emerges from this last page of the Bible’s first book as an icon of the unfailing and merciful providence of God. “Do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones” (Gen 50:21). The Joseph of the Old Testament represents the same mystery as the Joseph of the New Testament. Those graced with a strong devotion to Saint Joseph know that he is a good provider, fulfilling in wonderful ways the promise of the first Joseph in Egypt.

Go to Joseph

Return for a moment to Chapter 41 of Genesis. “When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do” (Gen 41:55). A marvelous eighth mode antiphon for the liturgy of March 19th takes this very text and applies to the Joseph of the New Testament: Clamavit populus ad regem alimenta petens, quibus ille respondit: Ite ad Ioseph. You will find it in the Processionale Monasticum(page 148).

I Will Provide For You

Both Josephs are images of the Fatherhood of God, the Giver of our daily supersubstantial bread. Both Josephs send us to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, "the living Bread come down from heaven" (Jn 6:51). The words of the Patriarch Joseph become for us the words of the heavenly Father: “Do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones” (Gen 50:21). The last page of Genesis sends us to the Most Holy Eucharist.


As a child I was drawn to the story of the Joseph of the Old Testament, reading his story again and again in my Children's Bible. As I grew into my teens I discovered that my true patron is Saint Joseph of the New Testament. And he has never failed to be "provide" for me.
In some way I have always felt that the first Joseph led me to my Patron, and in some way both are leading me to God.
Thank you for writing about this,

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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