St. Joseph had a boy that he took care of as a father should. Jesus was a boy who lost his earthly dad early in life. Most of us do not think about Joseph playing with the Holy Child, embracing him, tenderly kissing him, or carrying him around on his shoulders. Did he wipe away tears, clean scraped knees, tickle Jesus until he laughed hysterically, toss him in the air playfully? Did Joseph ever really know who this boy would become?
We know Jesus in retrospect, having read Scripture or heard testimonies by others. When Jesus asks his disciples who he is, the answers vary but Simon Peter responds in today’s Gospel of Luke with The Christ of God. That is a remarkable answer. Did Joseph know too that the baby he held in his arms would be the Son of Man who must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised? Did he look into the face of God and wonder what would become of his boy?
We look at our children and long for the best for them if we are good parents. We learn to let them fly and release them from our expectations. I have had these moments with my own father in more recent years–they are not easy. He has always blessed me with acceptance of a lifestyle that perhaps he never quite understood but never questioned. I wonder if Joseph too understood little but blessed Jesus by giving him support and affirmation.
Christ was so much to so many but to Joseph he was a little boy growing up and going about his Father’s business from an early age. Joseph must have watched in amazement some days, seeing hints of what was to come, as Christ grew in wisdom, quietly in those Hidden Years as they are referred to in the Spiritual Exercises. The childhood of the Christ was impacted by his earthly father as well as his heavenly One, too.
Very little is said about Jesus and Joseph’s relationship in Scripture. They must have shared a bond though. If Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus at the tomb, he certainly must have shed some tears for the man who provided a loving home for him. Joseph picked up his cross of knowing the Truth daily and followed his Son. He had to be a remarkable man to have said yes to the tasks assigned him by the angels. Let us thank St. Joseph for being an excellent role model for fathers of embracing their children for who they are.
Who is Jesus in the eyes of Joseph?
What can we learn from Joseph about parenting?
Heavenly Father, You gave us Joseph as a model of a loving parent who said yes to Your will in all things. May we learn to know this man’s heart and listen to what he has to say about who his Son is for us. Amen.