One of the most well-known saints in our Church is the man whom our parish is named
after, Saint Joseph. Tomorrow on Monday, March 20th, we honor his feast day. Or one
of his feast days I should say – the other being the feast of Saint Joseph the worker
which comes up on May 1st.
When I think of Joseph, the description of George Harrison comes to mind. George was
called “the quiet Beatle” and was a great guitarist and musician, but was kind of not as
much on the tip of the tongue as Paul or John. But he was of course just as much an
important part of the group.
The same can be said for Joseph. He literally is the quiet member of the Holy Family.
He doesn’t say a word in Scripture. And for all the churches, towns, shrines and other
things named after him, you might think we’d have an extensive biography of his life.
But he left behind no writings. Scripture simply calls him a “just man.” He presumably
provided for Mary and Jesus as a carpenter, and at some point before Jesus begins his
public ministry, he dies. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton to learn from Joseph.
For one, there’s trust. In the Gospel for tomorrow, it’s taken from Matthew 1, when the
angel appears to Joseph after Joseph has found out Mary is expecting, and he isn’t the
father. Joseph has a plan to leave Mary, but the angel says do not be afraid, God has a
plan. Joseph could think about his image, or his plans. But instead, he does what Mary
does, and he trusts both God and Mary. Sometimes our ego and pride can get in the
way, but it’s worth asking ourselves if we can trust God through challenging times, or
turn to Him for help.
Second, in Saint Joseph, we see the value of work. Saint Joseph has another feast day,
May 1st, Saint Joseph the Worker. It’s intentionally put on that day to put the attention
on the dignity of work, not the Communist version when May Day was so popular in the
Communist states. Work has dignity and through it, we make ourselves better, make the
world better and provide for our families. People might not notice all that we do, but by
learning from the example of Saint Joseph we can be reminded that our work is
Third, selflessness. Not too long ago I have a short welcome for a retreat, and I began
by mentioning some names: Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith, as I was curious if people
would know who these guys were. I’m a big NBA fan, so see their names in box scores
quite a bit. These are a couple of the recent winners of the “Sixth Man” award. They
aren’t household names like Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant, but they are big parts of
their team and they contribute. An “unselfish” athlete is the kind of player who doesn’t
mind if they don’t fill the stat sheet, but look for other ways to contribute. In a society
that puts so much on people being seen and noticed, are we OK quietly contributing to
our parish and our family without doing so for recognition other than knowing that God
sees what we do and that it makes a difference?
Finally, presence. Joseph didn’t do much talking in the Scriptures, but we know that he
was there. Think of Joseph in your Nativity Set under the tree, looking tenderly on Mary
and Jesus. He lived his life by always being there for his family, by providing for them,
leading them into Egypt when they had to flee and being there day in and day out. How
can we be present to our families and friends? How can we give that all important gift of
time to those who need us? Our presence and being active in the lives of people can do
No, Saint Joseph might not say much at all in the Bible, but from him we can learn so
much about how to live a life of virtue that impacts others. Like Saint Joseph, may we
be OK living out of the limelight, realizing that it’s OK not to be seen and noticed for our
actions, because God sees the good things we do and they also leave such a lasting
impact in the world and the lives of others.
Have a blessed week,
Book of the Week: Sometimes I’m Afraid by Michaelene Mundy. For the school Mass
on March 9th, the reading was of Queen Esther, who was facing death with the Israelite
people. In her anguish, she turned to God and God came through bringing justice to the
man who had told the king to kill the Israelite people, Haman. This book gives examples
of how we can deal with fear and turn to God as well. It has a Catholic context too,
published by Abbey Press, owned by Saint Meinrad Archabbey out of Indiana.