SAINT JOSEPH of ARIMATHEA (? B.C.-1st century A.D.), holy man
Patron saint of funeral directors and pallbearers
Today, we honor Saint Joseph of Arimathea, a secret follower of Jesus, who is remembered for his personal decency and moral uprightness, and his caring for our Lord’s Body after the Crucifixion.
All that is known for certain concerning Joseph is derived from the canonical Gospels, in which his name is mentioned by all four Evangelists. He came from a Jewish town called Arimathea, located in northern Judea; hence, his surname.
Joseph is identified in Scripture as “a virtuous and righteous man” (Luke 23:50a). He was also a wealthy member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, a court of justice among the Jewish people which appeared to be more concerned at times with politics rather than religion. In Joseph’s quest for knowing true justice, he secretly became “a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews” (John 19:38a).
Unmindful of any personal dangers, which were considerable indeed under the circumstances on Good Friday, Scripture tells us that it was Joseph who boldly requested from the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, the Body of Jesus after His death on the Cross, and was successful in his request.
Pilate instructed that Jesus’ Body be given to him, and “Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down” (Mark 15:46a), and together with others, “wrapped it in clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock” (Matthew 27:59-60a) in a neighboring garden.
There are further accounts in the life of Joseph in apocryphal writings which tell of his missionary journey to Gaul and then Great Britain to spread the Christian faith. But whatever the facts may be surrounding Joseph’s life after the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord, Joseph will always be remembered as a faithful disciple of Jesus – a man who sought to know the Truth, a man who embraced the Son of Man Himself as he took Him down from the Cross.
We normally commemorate his feastday on March 17, but because this date is also the feastday of Saint Patrick of Ireland, we remember Saint Joseph of Arimathea today (March 29) for his holiness and faithfulness.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, spirituality.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Collect for Saint Joseph of Arimathea)
“Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathea, with reverence and godly fear, prepared the Body of our Lord and Savior for burial and laid it in his own tomb, grant to us, Your faithful people, grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”