Our Model of Fathers

We’re about to celebrate Father’s Day and we honor all the men in our lives who have been our fathers.  Whether they are related to us by biology or marriage or by the fatherhood of ordination, our lives are blessed and enriched by the men we know and love. Just a few months ago we celebrated Jesus’ birth at Christmas.  As we recall the events surrounding the birth of Christ, it is the Baby Who is the “star of the show.”  It’s that way at every birth, isn’t it?  All eyes are on the child.  The “co-star” of the blessed event is the mom, whose love and labor helped bring the new life into the world.  In the case of Jesus’ mother Mary, it was also her great faith and cooperation with God’s will that brought Christ to save us.  And in the Christmas drama, there was also a “supporting actor” who played a most important role.  Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ biological father, but he was His father in every other sense of the word.


God certainly carefully selected the woman who would be the mother of His Son.  He must have been just as careful finding the perfect foster-father.  The prophets had foretold that the Messiah would be of King David’s royal line and at that time, a child’s lineage was determined by that of his father.  Joseph legally bound Jesus to the house of David and because of these ties, it was required that Joseph and Mary journey to Bethlehem for the census which would fulfill prophecy.  Joseph protected Mary and the Child Jesus by taking them to Egypt when Herod sought them out.  He gave Jesus a stable, loving, and prayerful home where He could “grow in wisdom, age, and grace” (Luke 2:52).  Joseph was the man in Jesus’ life, His role model.  From him, Jesus learned a trade, but He also learned how to be a man.


Joseph was a just man, an honest man, a courageous man of integrity.  For a few moments, consider this remarkable life.  His fiancee Mary had become pregnant before their marriage, but not by him.  Try to imagine his shame, hurt and anger as he struggled to come to terms with her news.  Joseph believed in Mary’s virginal purity.  He didn’t understand how she could have become pregnant, but he did not doubt her purity.  At the same time, he loved her and didn’t want to leave her vulnerable to the shame and punishment he fully expected would be her lot. He had to make a decision and make it quickly.  So, as difficult as it must have been for him, he decided to quietly divorce Mary.  That is, until an angel of the Lord appeared to him and affirmed that Mary’s Child was the Son of God.  


Just as Mary is for us, so too is Joseph a model of incredible faith.  From the moment of his angelic dream, Joseph’s life was consumed by his overwhelming faith in God’s plan for his family.  Jesus came into the world within a specific family at a precise moment in history.  The marriage of Joseph and Mary provided the unique home to fulfill all the prophecies surrounding the Messiah.  Their relationship of joyful celibacy and self-giving can be seen as mirroring the marriage feast of the Lamb in Heaven.  And in living out God’s will for our salvation, remember that Joseph just didn’t “go along with” God’s plan because of Mary’s special role in it.  He was a vital and active participant in the formation of the Holy Family.  As St. Luke describes him:  “Here is the wise and faithful servant, whom the Lord has put in charge of his household” (12:42).  St. Joseph is the model of guardians and protectors of our precious faith.  This gentle and caring man, who held his own Salvation in his arms, never failed in his duties as husband and father.  From his humble home in Nazareth, his unquestioning faith in God allowed Love to grow and mature and ultimately, to conquer the world.  We celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph each March 19. And we celebrate the fathers in our own lives every day.  Pray for these men and ask St. Joseph to protect, to guide and to watch over them always. 


“St. Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things.  He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that made up his life.” –St. Jose Maria Escriva 

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Brian H. Gill
    May 27, 2019 @ 19:19:31

    Joseph, husband of Mary, as a role model? ‘No pressure!’

    “Extraordinary” doesn’t, I think, more than begin to describe the situation. Given my personality, an aspect of Joseph’s life that’s literally extra-ordinary is effort to balance justice and mercy when he learned that Mary was pregnant – – – and willingness to accept a vital mission that promised a great deal of pressure and almost no recognition in this world.

    And then, returning from a celebration at the Temple, he realized that he’d misplaced God’s Son! And that’s almost another topic.


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