In 21st century America who are our role models? Sports figures, political leaders, adventurers? Consider for a moment St. Joseph. So little is said in the Bible about him, and yet if you think about it, so much was riding on his actions. It was he after all who had the charge to protect our divine Savior from the time of His birth. It was he who held in his arms and poured out a human father’s love and comfort to Jesus. If you think about all the various ways our Savior could have entered the world I doubt hardly any human would have come up with the plan God put into motion at the Annunciation. He could have just appeared, a man 30 or so years old. He could have been adopted into a family as an older child. But instead, He was born vulnerable and dependent on human parents for food, safety and shelter. Not only was Jesus not born as a great military leader or head of state, he was not even born into the home of a servant of a military leader or nobleman. Instead, he was born into the home of a poor, common carpenter. That is quite a statement to His confidence in mankind. By doing so I suppose that made Jesus’s knowledge of scripture and his miraculous acts all that more remarkable and quelled the argument that some of the events were merely a result of superior education.
No doubt, Joseph had his hands full. What with all the desert crossings and kings trying to destroy his family, and the poor guy probably didn’t even own a sword. Instead he relied on the gifts God gave him as a human and an incredible trust in God. This trust, this faith was paramount for Joseph to be willing and able to carry out his part in God’s plan. So often our society puts great emphasis on a man and his independence. It is interesting that Joseph, simply by the nature of his mission, had to be very independent in human terms and the only way he could achieve such independence was to be completely trusting and dependent on God. I wonder what his support system was like. It’s not like he could just sit around the firepit with the guys and say something like “boys, I’ve had a rough day. You know my son, Jesus…yes that is the one. He’s the Savior of the world ya know. Guess where I have to take him now?”. Who could Joseph reach out to besides God? I have no doubt Joseph was well respected in the community and he likely had friends. But could any of them comprehend his mission. I suspect even Joseph did not fully understand his mission while he was alive.
It wasn’t all bad for Joseph though. Fr. Pendolphi is known to quip about poor Joseph not having a chance in his household. He lived with Mary who was without sin, and Jesus his Divine Redeemer. How could he stand a chance when something was wrong in the household…it had to be his fault. On the flip side though can you imagine the depth of love and caring, compassion and understanding he must have felt living with Mary without sin, and our Lord.
The success of his mission is undeniable and mankind should be forever grateful for his determination and dedication to his family on earth. Speaking of success, our earthly barometer of success is so often tied to money, things, position, station in life. When St. Joseph died I’ve never heard that he had a condo in Mesopotamia, or a chalet on a thousand acres fronting the Euphrates. He had a trade skill as a carpenter but if he had money, it was probably just enough. However, his success is unparalleled. He did what he knew to be right, he did the best he could for his family and he was the protector of the Messiah in his early years. What more could he have accomplished that would have eclipsed such feats?
I appreciate that our Grand Knight asks St. Joseph to pray for us when he opens our meetings. He is the epitome of a role model and his wealth was beyond material. May we all strive to live by the loving, strong example St. Joseph provides for us.