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Hands Skilled at the Lathe [Jun. 21st, 2013|09:35 am]

I didn't get a chance to say anything about Father's Day, been kind of a cray-cray week. That's just as well though-- it gave me time to reflect more on what it means to be a father, in particular an authentically Christian father.

It's probably a rather unoriginal statement-- but must be stated, nevertheless-- that Saint Joseph remains an invaluable model for those of us who have been called to fatherhood. Just as Mary was chosen from before all time to be the Mother of God, St. Joseph was likewise chosen to be the protector and provider of the Holy Family.

Less talked about perhaps is the fact that, though St. Joseph was perfectly chosen and thus perfectly suited for his role, he himself did not find it the ideal situation and circumstance at the time. He was somewhat advanced in years, and some sources teach that it was probable that he was a widower with children of his own by the time Mary was betrothed to him. In any case, as the guardian of a virgin consecrated to God, he certainly did not expect to be a father (again?), and certainly not the adoptive father to the Son of God.

St. Joseph was human, and whether he doubted that he was worthy of being party to a miraculous conception, or if he took the more human, but not unreasonable course of doubting Mary's own virtue, he remained honorable and kind, refusing to be party to shaming Mary with scandal, and chose to bow out of their marriage arrangement quietly, very likely taking on the brunt of the 'blame' of a consecrated virgin being with child onto himself by doing so.

Now here's where things get interesting. St. Joseph was graced with the visitation of an angel who assured him that yes, this was no accident, yes, he was to be the adoptive father of the Son of God. At this point, he was given the choice. Every father-to-be is given the choice, and not everyone says yes. St. Joseph gave his own Fiat to the angel, and the rest, as we know, is history.

What must it have been like for St. Joseph? Most of us have to contend with the idea that we will never be good enough for our fathers, who may sometimes seem to demand perfection every step of the way. But what about St. Joseph, who knows for a fact that his new son IS Perfection, and he will objectively NEVER be 'good enough' in relation to God the Son?

And yet he fulfilled his role admirably, giving wholly and humbly of what he had to offer-- the life of a poor carpenter in a rinky-dink little backwater town in the Roman Empire. He trained his son in his craft, he showed him the value of hard work and what it meant to be a man in the best ways he possibly could, and we can see this reflected in what Jesus was like as a man when he was grown up. For Son of God though he was, his human nature required a model and a mentor, and that was St. Joseph, patron of fathers and workers.

May St. Joseph be a model to all of us who wish to take on fatherhood, to those of us who said yes to a huge gift and a responsibility, perhaps unasked for, and, like St. Joseph, do so mostly in the background, unpraised, unnoticed, a silent pillar of strength for our families.

St. Jospeh, pray for us.