What a time to be alive, right? I mean, who among us ever expected anything like this, or would have chosen to walk down this sad path? Who would choose quarantine or social distancing? But here we are. And we know, in our heart of hearts, that it’s not an accident. God put us here and now for a purpose. Maybe we are called to be leaders in some way, or called to shepherd our family in uncertain times. Maybe we are being given an opportunity to pursue greater holiness by slowing down, stepping back, and taking a look at what’s really important. God never wills the evil going on around us, but he may be allowing it, and using it, to give us gifts we didn’t know we wanted, or needed.
I suspect Saint Joseph could relate to that.
Today, of course, we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus Christ. He is the patron saint of fathers, of workers, and of the Church. Obviously, he was a very special man. It wasn’t happenstance or an accident that he was put in this very special role. He was, of course, of the line of David, but he was also chosen to be the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus for a reason.
In Joseph, we see so many wonderful virtues. We see righteousness. He was a devout follower of the law. Even his initial unwillingness to take Mary into his home shows that he was a man who walked in the way the Law taught. But righteousness means more than that. It means following whatever way puts us in right relationship with God and others. His righteousness went beyond mere observance of the Law, and followed in the way God laid out for him, as uncertain as that must have been.
In Joseph, we see justice. He was a hard worker, and a skilled carpenter. He obviously gave what his customers asked, or he wouldn’t have continued in business for very long. He was also just in his dealings with Mary, accepting her into his house because of God’s command.
In Joseph, we see faithfulness. He practiced his faith and was obedient to God. He protected his family from hardship and oppression, and evil intent. He raised his Son and taught him the Law. He was faithful to Mary.
The real gift of this celebration of St. Joseph is that he is a great model for our faith. Men particularly don’t often have role models of faithfulness and righteousness, but in St. Joseph we have all of that. Joseph is the patron of fathers and of workers for a reason: in him we see both of those vocations raised to glory because St. Joseph was a man who lived his faith in all of his life.
When we find faithfulness difficult, we have Joseph to look to for help. In times of uncertainty like these, we have Saint Joseph’s intercession, he who had to work through all the events of his family’s life without an instruction book or road map, but only with the light of faith. Through his intercession, may our work and our lives be blessed, and may we be found faithful to the word of the Lord. May we all come to know the grace God intends in this season of our lives.