Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary


One of the best ways to meditate upon the Gospels is to put yourself into the story.  This is what is often meant by WWJD – "What would Jesus do?"  This, however, is very difficult to do in reality – put yourself into the place of the Perfect Man, and figure it all out from there?  What sometimes works better (or, at least, can be easier to do) is to put yourself into the place of an onlooker of the events taking place.  What better "onlooker" for a man to choose than St. Joseph?
 
Here is a man who, in all likelihood, was done raising a family, when he is asked to be the protector of this woman, Mary, whom the elders said was very special.  What does this mean, to look after this young girl?  No sooner is he tasked with watching over her than she is found to be pregnant!  How would you react?  Mission: failed, right?  Instead, Joseph decides that by looking after her means to divorce her quietly, or she might be stoned to death for adultery.  Seems like the right, politically correct thing to do?  It saves face for him and saves her life.  Well, God has other plans – God wants Joseph to raise the child as his own, but it’s really the child of the Holy Spirit (whatever that is), and he must name the child "Jesus", even though nobody else in his family has that name.  Okay…  Well, after being told to take Mary into his home, she goes off to spend 3 months with her cousin, who’s also pregnant.  Fine.  When they get near the time of the birth, the emperor commands a census, so they’re still not going to be in Joseph’s home.  Worse yet, she goes into labor, while they’re on the road, and they have to try to find a place to have the child, and no one will let them in, except for a cave that’s used as a stable for animals.  So, instead of taking Mary into his home, Jesus is instead born in Bethlehem (which translates to the "House of Bread").
 
Well, after childbirth, things should be easier, correct?  Wrong!  Next thing you know, instead of letting Mary get some rest, some shepherds are wanting to see the baby.  Well, maybe once they get back home, things will settle down.  Nope – instead, some wise men from the East come to see the baby.  At least they brought gifts.  Problem is, they also brought trouble.  By not going back to Herod, they angered him, and so Herod orders all babies killed.  Luckily, an angel told Joseph about this ahead of time.  (By the way, how would you handle God sending all these angels to talk to you in your dreams?  Would you even tell anybody else?  How do you explain it to your new teenage wife?)  Unfortunately, it means, once again, leaving home – this time for a few years.  St. Joseph is seeming more like the patron saint of the homeless than anything else right now.  How would you handle all this upheaval in the space of less than a year – all on account of a child that isn’t even your own!
 
Given this kind of start, it is not all that surprising that, when Jesus is twelve years old (newly Bar Mitzvahed), Joseph has problems with Jesus again.  This time, they’re not leaving home – they’re going back home… but without Jesus.  After 3 days of looking (not just 3 hours – how scared have you been, losing a child for even 3 minutes?), Joseph doesn’t say a word to Jesus.  Rather it is Mary who asks Jesus what is going on, and they get the response: "Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?"  How would you react to this, if you were St. Joseph?  You took him and his mother into your house, went through a huge ordeal for the first few years of his life, and he says he needs to be elsewhere, calling that "his Father’s house".  Does any of this make sense?  Is this the kind of life you thought you’d have?  It’s a good thing those angels showed up all the time to make things even more confusing.
 
You might say that St. Joseph would be the patron saint of "plans that go awry".  Or, you could say that St. Joseph is the patron saint of anyone’s and everyone’s life, especially since he was the patron of the Source of Life.  Life is rough, life is uncertain, and sometimes life goes way out of whack – and that’s just if you’re single!  Having kids throws a whole other set of curves to your life.  That’s where we can go to St. Joseph and ask for his intercession.  He’s been there, done that, and got the title of "Saint" to prove it.  We can entrust ourselves to his guidance, because God the Father found him worthy enough to entrust his Son to his care during his formative years.
 
Pray that St. Joseph will help you through any challenges you might face.  Certain saints seem to be "specialized" for specific tasks (e.g., St. Anthony can help you find things, but St. Blaise will help heal your throat), but St. Joseph is the patron saint of all our needs – just like any good father should be.
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