Tuesday, March 19, 2019 — Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
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On this day, one of my favorites of the whole year, I delight in the chance to think about the life of St. Joseph.
Just the other night, I found myself lying on the floor outside my kids’ room because my wife and I have recently taken a more active step in sleep training our twins. This adjustment starts with our typical ways of great affection (i.e. kisses, snuggles, bundling of covers, “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “God bless you,” re-bundling of covers, etc.). After slinking out, the friendly first step is followed by more pointed instructions about how John & Clare need to, “get back in bed and go to sleep!” Clinging to the door handle until all the blood rushes out of my arm or until my softer side succumbs to the cries of, “Dad, I need somebody to hold my hand!”, I relent and begin the process over again. So, as I settled back into my pillow and armbar pose outside their door for Round 2, I said to myself, “Did Joseph have to do this for Jesus?” There is no record of it in Scripture, but it brought me comfort to know that the travails of parenting must have been part of Joseph’s life.
Can you imagine Joseph’s face of “great anxiety” when that 12-year-old whippersnapper said to his parents in Luke 2, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” In a similar way, did Joseph have to take the heat of the phrase, “But ALL my friends are allowed to!” Did Joseph have to concoct clever ways of getting the Son of God to eat healthy foods? I don’t know about all these 1st century circumstances; however, I imagine him having authentic moments of enduring stress. Through it all, though, I believe he must have breathed in the same grace that the Lord told Nathan about in 2 Samuel or the gift of faith that Paul illuminated in Romans.
Are there moments like this in your life? The burdens of getting caught up on standards? The impossibility of balancing school, work, family, faith, friendships? The tumult of taking care of loved ones? The unending cycle of never feeling at your best? What makes you weary?
Whatever occasion of struggle we find ourselves in this Lent, may we enter into it as Joseph did: trusting in God’s unerring goodness when the chaos of the world crashes into us. May we find the peace of forgiveness or friendship or a good night’s sleep.
Joseph Sheehan, Theology Teacher