Thursday, March 19, 2015

Walking by Faith: The Courageous Example of St. Joseph

Not much is said about St. Joseph in the Gospel.  His biographical information is extremely limited: He was a carpenter, the devoted and most chaste husband of Mary, and lawful foster father of Jesus. And, unlike most of the other figures in the Gospels, Joseph is never quoted as having spoken a single word.  What is recorded about him is his actions, and they are actions that speak volumes about the faith that he lived, and the example he can be for us as we walk our journey of faith.

For we walk by faith, not by sight ~2 Corinthians 5:7
St Joseph is the perfect model for living these words of St. Paul.  He our example par excellence of one of the most important virtues that's needed as we lead our families through the perils of the sinful world in which we live: courage.  Joseph made two very difficult choices that many men would balk at, because he trusted in what the Lord was asking him to do as it was revealed to him in a dream, for the sake of his Holy Family:

1.  He took a woman as his spouse who, during their betrothal, had conceived a child that was not naturally his.

2. He led his family out of the land that was their home, to a far-away and foriegn land, with little more than the clothes on their back and sandles on their feet, to avoid the wrath of Herod.

Think about that.  If you were asked to make decisions like these, to take such decisive and counter-intuitive actions based on what had come to you in a dream, would you have the courage to do it?  I'd like to hope that I would have the courage to do so, but often times it is difficult enough just to get the family to sit down to prayer, or to decline a request to work extra hours when it would be to the detriment of my family.  St. Joseph did exhibit this courage, and in doing so provided us all a very simple and powerful example of how we should live our lives:

1. Trust God with everything.  And I mean everything, not just the big decisions or help needed in moments of desperation.  He is certainly needed there, but he also wants to enter into the small, sometimes seemingly insignificant moments and daily issues of our lives.  Call on his help and he will provided the help that is needed (which is not always the same as what we want).

2. Love and trust Mary.  Trust her implicity, for she is the spouse of the Holy Spirit and a powerful intercessor.  St. Joseph had to trust in her and in what was revealed to about her pregnancy through the angel, though by all external appearances the situation was scandalous enough that, by Jewish law, she could have been stoned.  But Joseph, no doubt knowing her purity of heart, made the decision to remain with her.  We should do the same.

3. Remain close to Jesus. St. Joseph did this because it was entrusted to him by God.  Now that Christ has been revealed to us in the flesh, by taking on and suffering in a human body and leaving us the gift of the most Holy Eucharist, we are also entrusted with making a home for him in our hearts and in our families.  Invite him in, consecrate yourselves and your families to him, and the blessings and peace that follow will be beyond compare, both in this life and in the next.

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us!