As the year of St. Joseph draws to a close today, I thought I’d share a brief reflection that’s stayed with me for most of the year.
When [the Magi] had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”Matthew 2:13-15
Scripture records no words spoken by St. Joseph, only his actions. Even when he encounters angelic beings in his dreams, St. Joseph has no verbal response. We see no complaint on his part. All we witness is that once God’s will is made known to St. Joseph, he follows the will of God fully and without hesitation. When Mary was found to be with child and God instructed Joseph, through an angel, that Joseph was to take Mary into his home and care for the child, St. Joseph dropped his plans and brought her into his home. When God asked St. Joseph to leave behind everything and flee into Egypt, St. Joseph did not hesitate to follow the will of God.
What extraordinary faith this man must have had! Abram was sent on a journey like this, to a land that was not his own, with no guaranteed return, simply with the knowledge that God has called him to the journey; thus, he must follow. Abram, who became Abraham when he entered into the covenant with God, became the first patriarch of the Children of Israel. St. Joseph, following God as Abram did, was able to see the culmination of this covenant God had made with Abraham. Amongst Abraham’s numerous descendants, St. Joseph witnessed the birth of the Jesus, the Christ and Messiah, the Savior of the world, through whom Abraham and his descendants—unified not by race, but by common worship of the one, true God—were redeemed.
St. Joseph, a just and righteous man, lived a virtuous life. He followed God, and he put aside everything to be of service to his wife Mary and his foster son, Jesus. He spent his remaining years providing for them, teaching them, and protecting them. He is a model for all of us, but, in particular, for us men. We men seem to have a special kind of pride, ambition, and greed built into us. We desire to conquer things, to make our mark on the history of the world. St. Joseph is the antidote to these temptations to worldly fame. In his humility, he gave up his own ambitions—whatever they might have been—and even his livelihood, when necessary. Why did he do this? He did these things to serve the wife and child given to his care. This is, perhaps, the essence of fatherhood: to die to self and pour out your life in service for those who have been given to you.
Not every man is called to be a biological father, but every man is, in some way, called to fatherhood. When we accept the cross of dying to self so that we might pour out our lives in service of those in our care, we will realize the truth of Christ’s words: “everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)
Let us pray together:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
From: Patris corde