Men Need Saint Joseph
Mar 19, 2018
Joseph was the perfect father: “the luminous, discreet image of the heavenly Father’s care…” He could have been withdrawn and disengaged toward the unique child born of that unique woman in the most unique of all ways: by the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit. He was being thrust into an environment of such unprecedented holiness and divine favor, that to gracefully bow out of such a situation so above and beyond his humble human origins and frailties, would certainly arouse no indictments. Any more than a boy would be blamed if he turned down a position to be emperor of the world. What would a boy know of properly ruling a whole world, what would a humble carpenter from Nazareth know about embracing and raising his God as his son and accepting the submission of she who is the Immaculate Conception? The humility of the Word made Flesh and the humility of the hand maiden of the Lord came together in the person of Saint Joseph who is the head of his household.
But just as easily could God the Father have been withdrawn and disengaged toward that sinful and spiteful race called humanity. He did not have to extend the hand of divine adoption to us mortal creatures any more than He had to create us…but it is the mark of love to always reach out for the other and God the Father reached all the way from Heaven in the person of His Son to embrace us and kiss us. How similar is the person of Saint Joseph reaching for the Christ child first in the person of Mary who he took as his wife despite the suspicious overtones of her pregnancy, then in the tiny swaddled package of the baby Jesus taken into his arms much as we take Him to our tongues, hands and soul in Holy Communion.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, did not Jesus with a sense of profound love and remembrance perhaps pause for second when he said “Abba, Father…” For as he would most certainly and rightly call Mary, Momma or Mommy…would he not the more call Joseph Abba, daddy with such perfect clarity and sincerity that it left no doubt in the people’s mind that Jesus was indeed the carpenter’s son and not just the son of Mary.
Joseph was a living breathing reminder of the presence of God the Father made perfectly manifest in the paternity of Joseph toward the God child Jesus Christ; as perfect as God is Father to Christ by nature so in the flesh and by grace is Joseph the perfect Father to the Word made Flesh dwelling now amongst us.
Jesus saw in Joseph each day of His life, how the Holy and Blessed Trinity envisioned human fatherhood, as the outpouring of the Father’s eternal love for women and children. And perhaps as the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mother to conceive the Christ child in her womb, perhaps it was the overshadowing of God the Father Himself who conceived Christ in the mind, heart and soul of Saint Joseph at that moment of Joseph’s Fiat, his yes to God: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." And the response: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” This was the annunciation of Joseph and when he declared his yes with unflinching faith and obedience, it was at that moment that God the Father had found the earthly compliment to His Eternal Fatherhood.
Fatherhood in the person of Saint Joseph was from here on out invested with a sacred and holy character which directly emanated from God the Father’s unique person: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” And He gave His Son into the hands of Saint Joseph as though to indicate His continued paternal presence with Jesus both in spirit and now in flesh. As the Holy Spirit has a unique relationship with our Lady and is within her person as a spouse who takes His beloved to Himself…so the Father incarnates His love in the person of Saint Joseph to embrace His Son in the Flesh.
The sacred significance of Saint Joseph cannot, must not be overlooked in these times, especially given a culture and a hell that has focused all its fury upon the family structure. I pray that awareness of Saint Joseph especially among boys, aspiring husbands and fathers in training, and those who are now Abbas themselves might inspire a renewed commitment on their part, and all of us really, to place our vocations, our families and those given to our charge in the work of salvation in the very capable hands of Saint Joseph: those same hands that held Jesus, that provided a living for Him and the Blessed Virgin, and will protect us and shield those we love from the gates of hell that will not prevail against us, our families or our Church.