Good morning everyone. I hope this June 2021 post finds you all well. This morning, as we approach Father’s Day this weekend, I’d like to share with you a few thoughts and reflections about St. Joseph as we celebrate our own dad’s this Sunday. Pope Francis proclaimed a year long celebration dedicated to the foster father of Jesus. There are so many aspects to this special man we don’t see mentioned in the bible. The Pope says that “Christians can discover St. Joseph, who often goes unnoticed as an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble”. He is described as the patron saint of the worker, the pillar of the family – protector of the church.
Today I’d like to touch upon 2 lessons that St. Joseph can teach us about fatherhood. The first is humility. Allen Hunt, in his talks says that St. Joseph was aware that we are all pilgrims passing through this life. Humility doesn’t mean being a nobody. It means being no more of a somebody than you ought to be. Take up just the right amount of space in your life. Take up just the right amount of space in the world. Don’t try to take up too much space because then you have a problem with pride and ego. Don’t try to take up too little space, then you’ve got a problem with low self-esteem. It’s like sitting on a park bench. Take up enough space in the world and in the lives of others but allow others to have their space. Take up the space that God has assigned to you.
St. Joseph embodies this. God is the Father of Jesus, Joseph is the adopted earthly father, God is the real Father. Joseph is not trying to play a role bigger or smaller. Joseph is taking up just the right amount of space. Humility.
The second lesson is what Joseph can teach us about being a husband and father. Matthew Kelly says that being a father is difficult for a number of reasons. You have to step into it and take it seriously but there will be days when you don’t feel like that for whatever reason. For example, a toddler who keeps you awake all night with nightmares. Dad gets very little sleep but the day is here and he must press on. Here’s the lesson in this:
MK reminds us that it isn’t my job as a father (or mother) to make my children’s life easy. If I do, I am doing them a massive disservice. Because life is also difficult. He says, it’s part of my job as a father, (or mother), to help them face the difficulties of life head on, not to skirt them, or to ignore them or pretend they are not there, or expect someone else to fix the hardships for our kids.
But to allow their lives to be appropriately difficult, so that they can continue to grow. As a father, (or mother), we have to be mindful of that. If things are difficult for our children you are not doing something wrong. It’s meant to be that way. In our culture today we tend to think that if something is really hard, we, as fathers and mothers must be doing something wrong. No. Being fathers and mothers wasn’t meant to be easy, life isn’t meant to be easy. We fail our kids if we make their lives easy.
It’s our job as a parent is not to prepare the road for our children, but to prepare our children for the road. The tendency in our society is to make everything smooth, for our children, to anticipate their every need and work out every conflict for them. Instead of saying “you know what, you are going to have to work through this conflict. Let’s talk about how you as a child will navigate through this”.
It’s hard to watch our kids struggle, suffer, encounter persecution (bullying), fixing it for them is usually our instinct but the right tactic is to say “how can I help you fix this, because there will be more problems for you to deal with when you get older”. Just come along side them. “Whenever you have a problem come to dad or mom and we will help you solve it (not fix it for you). You do the fixing, and I’ll do the helping.
Two final thoughts. Love isn’t about feeling good. It’s about doing what you don’t want to do, over and over again, if it needs to be done, for the sake of someone else. Love is really about self-sacrifice. Wise “food for thought” for fathers, mothers and spouses.
Finally, a man’s worth is measured by how he parents his children. What he gives them, what he keeps away from them, the lessons he teaches and the lessons he allows them to learn on their own. St. Joseph, in all his quiet humility, the behind the scenes father, helped to care, protect and guide Mary and Jesus through their earthly lives with dignity, grace, a quiet strength, honest integrity, self-sacrifice and wisdom. Happy Father’s Day everybody.
Love MJ xo