Behold Joseph the Man!

famThe Mother of God is elevated to the highest pedestal attainable by a human being. She deserves this because her life on earth matches the blueprint in God’s mind; she is, and deservedly so, the highest honor of our race and the mother of our salvation. This honor is due to her fiat and her intrinsic connection to the divine Son of God. She is Theotokos— God’s bearer—and the mother of all mankind. However, something would be amiss if the Son of God was deprived of a father. Thus Joseph occupied a pivotal place in the economy of salvation. He is the second greatest saint in the eyes of the church. He was handpicked to fulfill a primordial role.

 

His role was indispensable in helping Jesus develop into mature manhood. He taught him what it means to be man; as any father should, he must have taught him to pray the psalms, the Jewish’s devotional prayers, how to behave in synagogue, and in temple; he must have taught him how to sit at table, comport himself in public, how to deal with his peers etc. many of Jesus’ mannerisms must have been Joseph’s; it is difficult for a young boy not to imitate his father. Any father trying to figure out how best to father, look to Joseph. He had to learn to fall in love with his vocation and assignment. He learned to love the holy family as God loves them without counting the cost. Through this new finding, Joseph was able to discover and appreciate the great gift he has been given to care for the greatest thing that has happened to the human race.

jjjHowever, this role was not a walk in the park. Like Mary, he was not given a special grace from birth to be the father of God. He was a sinner striving to be virtuous. So it was not easy for him to deal with mystery, so he must have struggled to accept the angel’s annunciation to him. Someone being pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit is mind blowing and unprecedented. Although a man of faith, he could not have swimmingly accepted this occurrence. To make things worse, out of all the possible mediums, God chose a dream to announce the greatest of news. Sheer madness, however that’s God’s madness. Madness that comes from God is much more beautiful than wisdom of human origin.  Despite all the researches done on dream, we still don’t know how best to take dreams. So human that he was, he struggled to decipher what was being asked of him. When things come to light however, he cooperates wholeheartedly. That’s a lesson for all of us. It is reasonable to struggle to figure out God’s plan for our lives, but once evident, leave no room for doubt. Commit as if there had never been any doubt.

Although scripture presents him as a just, pure, gentle man, he was real. When he learned that his fiancée was carrying a child, he sought to end the relationship, silently. It’s worth pondering how he chose to do that. Knowing that she would be stoned to death, he wanted to leave without scandalizing her. That’s love. That’s a great example for all men trying to find a good person to marry. It may happen that things don’t work out; no matter how it ends, that does not call for humiliation, insults and the likes. Remember that person was going to be the love of your life. So end it while keeping her dignity intact. The same is true for women. It may hurt I know, but your reaction shows your true identity and character. Let Joseph be your model.

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He is the perfect model for all young man aspiring to be a biological or a spiritual father. Every man should have a devotion to him because he is the man that every woman is looking for and the one they espouse in ideal when marrying a man. He does not speak; he is a man of action. He is the man that every man wants to become when he seriously scrutinizes himself. He is the desire that all gentlemen want to cultivate in secret. He is the model that all men want to imitate due to his commitment and to his vocation. He is the man that all women wish their husband were. Every young woman being courted is looking for an exemplary love that exceeds any sort of egotism. Joseph’s life incarnates this kind of love. Those who put themselves at his school will discover how best to espouse this ideal love in their love life.

He is the ideal for priest and spiritual leaders as well. He serves Jesus and Mary with great diligence although she was his wife only in ideal and his son by adoption. When the Lord asks him to flee to Egypt, he does so readily, promptly, and obediently. He left in the middle of the night and went through dangerous impasse to reach Egypt. Out of concern for his family and as a matter of prudence, at his return from Egypt, he stationed in Nazareth instead of Bethlehem. He cooperates with this mysterious role knowing God is at work in him. Doesn’t a priest do the same? He is the father of the community he serves only in ideal, yet he would lay down his life for them if necessary; he is readily available for them as a husband to his wife in labor.

ppMoreover, Joseph teaches the priest how to deal with mysterious phenomena. Joseph was human dealing with God’s mystery (Jesus) and the greatest human (God’s spouse). The priest is a human being dealing with God (the Eucharist) and fragile souls that he must save. As eli the prophet once remarked when his sons were mishandling the sacrifice of the temple: “If a man sins against another man, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if he sins against the LORD, who can intercede?” (1 sam. 2:25).

If you have not yet had a devotion to St. Joseph, begin one. That’s the best spiritual gift you can give to yourself. He silently teaches us how to serve our family, church, and country. You can never go wrong following in the footsteps of Joseph. He always leads to his Son.

Devotion to St. Joseph starts this year on January 28. It’s a simple devotional prayer that is prayed every Sunday for seven weeks that ends on March 19, which is the Feast Day of St. Joseph. Then find a good prayer to St. Joseph to pray daily.

Here is the one I pray daily:

Remember, O most illustrious Patriarch St. Joseph, on the testimony of Saint Teresa, thy devoted servant, that never has it been heard that anyone who invoked thy protection or sought thy assistance has not obtained relief. In this confidence I come to thee, my loving protector, chaste spouse of Mary, foster father of the Savior of men and dispenser of the treasures of His Most Sacred Heart. Despise not my prayer, but graciously hear and answer my petition.

 

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