St. Joseph of Arimathea
Patron of Funeral Directors
For a man mentioned in the Holy Gospels we know scarcely anything of his life. Once again, though, what we DO know is what counts. Joseph was a man who sought the Kingdom of God. In the itinerant preaching of Jesus of Nazareth, he came to believe. However, like many others (both of his day and of ours) he was fearful. Something held him back. He is depicted as a man of wealth (Mt. 27:57) and this may have been the thing he was afraid of losing if he were to publicly have supported Our Lord.
But when the moment came, he was filled with the spirit. At the hour of Jesus’ death on the cross, Joseph, aided by Nicodemus (another secret follower of the Christ) took action that would proclaim before Jew and Roman their allegiance.
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds.
Where he lacked boldness before, he now possesed it in full. When it counted, he provided an earthly resting place for the body of Our Lord — a tomb wherein the Savior would repose while the work of salvation was worked out for us. For this, Joseph is regarded as patron of funeral directors — that noble profession who’s practitioners provide comfort to those who mourn in a very real way.
If you’ve ever seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you are familiar with the line that forms the title of this piece. And if you have never seen the film, do yourself a favor. It’s worth the laugh.
(Scripture quoted from Jn. 19:38-39, NABRE)