No, I’m not talking about our President, Joseph Biden, nor some new blend from Starbucks. Today the Church honors Saint Joseph. Think Christmas. If you were a church-going boy, he’s the one you hoped to play in the Christmas pageant, since Joseph spoke no lines but headlined, unlike sheep and shepherds, elbowing and bleating for attention . Usually, Joseph stood slightly behind Mary, dressed in one of the better bathrobes, keeping a watchful eye on Mary and her baby, Jesus. Easy.
Well, Joseph’s real story reminds us, life’s not so easy, even if God picked you for the part. Until a dream interrupted his sleep and life, he was ordinary Joe, a carpenter. Suddenly, he’s asked to believe the unbelievable and then become the guardian of Mary and God’s son, Jesus. Like anyone, Joseph could’ve said, “No thanks.” But he said, “Yes” then and for every arduous day or amazing moment to follow.
Sometimes I imagine Jesus and Joseph in the carpenter’s shop. Did Jesus take his first steps there? I picture Joseph squatting in wood shavings, rough hands outstretched to catch God’s son toddling towards him. Joseph, so proud of those firsts, as if Jesus was his son. I wonder if Joseph carved a small boat as a birthday gift for Jesus, the boy who’d grow up to walk on water and calm seas with a few words? For sure, Joseph did more than repair and construct things. He built into Jesus and Mary.
Which is why I love Joseph. He reminds me of other good men, like the one I married. They love through actions more than words. They protect, model, encourage, teach and provide. Sometimes they’re in the background, keeping a watchful eye. They believe in us, sometimes before we do. Their hallmark is faithfulness. You need something hard done? Ask Joseph.
So today the Church honors Saint Joseph, but it’s good to remember he wasn’t a saint, as most think of saints, when God chose him. Which reminds me to look back and around, then give thanks for God’s Josephs. Ordinary saints who stand behind, walk beside or lead to assist others in fulfilling God’s call. There’s nothing ordinary about their fingernail faith, leaping in the dark and hanging on by their fingernails. And there’s nothing common about choosing to believe the unbelievable, then do the unthinkable for God’s sake, with or without a speaking role.
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