Friday, March 19, 2010
St. Joseph is an example to us of deep courage, immense faith, quiet piety, and committed fatherhood. He is one of deep responsibility and is a living example of the beatitudes. There is a great deal we can learn from the foster father of Christ, and it is well summed up in one word: righteousness. The Bible describes St. Joseph as a "righteous man," but says little else about him. Church tradition and personal reasoning, however, lead us to a far greater understanding of this great saint of the Catholic Church.
Joseph is known first of all for his divinely appointed office of foster father to the Son of God. Indeed, caring for Mary and her Child was St. Joseph's great work on earth. For Joseph, the conception of the child and circumstances of his birth required great faith and fortitude. On the word of an angel he took Mary into his home and claimed the child as his own, giving him the name Jesus. When Jesus was born, Joseph was forced to take his wife and her child to Egypt to flee from harms way. His faith in God and meekness of soul were perfect, and thus he returned to Nazareth to raised the child that God had miraculously put in his capable hands.
Some little known authors have described St. Joseph as great, and indeed he was great. The years in Nazareth no doubt brought much work for Joseph as he serenely cared for his wife and child. "He was a righteous man," yes, he was a man who was patient, persevering, and honest. He was an example to the Christ-Child as He grew up. He was tender and supporting of his wife, and as he worked in his little carpenter shop he never slacked in his responsibility to his family.
Joseph was courage personified. To accept this great mystery on the word of an angel and continue to embrace it until his quiet death years later certainly exemplifies the greatest kind of silent courage. The beatitudes were manifest in him... he was just, meek, peace loving, merciful, poor in spirit, and blessed in suffering. He was not these things openly or greatly, and even today is given little credit for his immense holiness, but he was indeed the embodiment of Christ's teachings on the mount. Could it have been any other way? Indeed God chose a noble man to raise His Son.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus is well known for her little way... the philosophy of remaining as a child in persevering fulfillment of God's will. She showed us that each moment of each day can be offered to God in love and be worth much more to Him than otherwise. She showed how following the beatitudes in meekness and humility of spirit brings greater spiritual joy as the realization of God's goodness dawns on us. Certainly this very inspiration is apparent in the life of St. Joseph, who was like a child in attention to God's wishes. In his life we can find the secret to fulfillment and beauty in cleanliness of heart. He was manifestly blessed with the ability to see God in his cleanliness of heart and virginity of soul, and his purity and noble virtue received the joy of Mary, his holy bride. Let us then ask him to help our lives to be living examples of the beatitudes.