Today, celebrated a day late because of the liturgical calendar, is the Feast of St. Joseph, the man who raised Jesus in the role of his earthly father . I could not help but send off a couple of emails to some dads I know encouraging them by letting them know they were doing a great job raising their kids. I think of Joseph who must have wondered what exactly he was getting himself into by marrying Mary. None of us know what life will bring us. Not all of us will be blessed by the visit of an Angel of God to give us reassurance that we are going to be ok–and what does that mean anyway? Was Joseph ok? The family sure experienced much trauma and drama in those early years. I cannot imagine what ran through his mind some nights when he pulled up the blankets and nestled into sleep. How many nights did he scan the room for an angel who did not reappear after the flight to Egypt? How many whispered conversations did did he and Mary have about their child? What did Joseph teach his son before he died? I have so many questions when I think about Joseph. After Jesus turns 12, we do not hear anything about Joseph again so we do not know how long this man was present to Christ.
St. Joseph is the patron saint of so much: the universal church, Canada, the dying, the sick, unborn children, fathers, travelers, families, home sellers and buyers, social justice, and carpenters and all working people. This does not cover the gamut of what people pray to St. Joseph for. When I was at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal this summer, I was fascinated by how many people have a strong devotion to this man. Rightfully so, I thought. This humble man seems to understand what hardships people go through and compassionately responds as he did with Mary. So many men today would have left Mary on her own but Joseph stood by her in the end. If we all had angels telling us what to do when confronted with major decisions, we too would probably make the right choices more often, I suppose. Nonetheless, he could have still chosen to not marry Mary.
I have not yet started to pray regularly to him for a happy death but I think he will be a good accompanier for that experience. Matthew 1. 18 tells us Joseph is a righteous man and that is the kind of person I want to take the final steps with. I can imagine his as the proud earthly father of Jesus who loved his son immensely. I sense he was tender to Mary and that their love was strong and rooted in the secret that they shared. This boy was not his biologically but that did not change his actions towards him or his mother. Mary must have marveled at what a blessing he was to the family.
We need good male role models in life. I am fortunate to have some fantastic men as friends. Like Joseph, they tend to be righteous and faithful on many fronts. I am ever grateful as a single person that I have developed wholesome, platonic relationships with the opposite sex who let me know that I am valued and loved. I believe it is one of the reasons that my romantic relationships with men have been fairly healthy for the most part. The bar is set high and yet my expectations are realistic about acceptable behaviour. We need Josephs in our lives to balance the males who are not righteous or faithful. St. Joseph, pray for us, that we may listen for angels and be good people.
What good father figures are you thankful for today?
Are your relationships with significant others righteous and faithful?
St. Joseph, thank you for showing us that we can be responsible for more than what is “ours” when we open our hearts and minds to the will of God. May we listen for the guiding voice of an Angel from God when we need to discern a major decision. Help us to be righteous and faithful people as you were. Amen.