by Thomas Yellavula mhm
St. Joseph, as the gentle head of the Holy Family, is a much-honored and well-beloved saint. God has made St. Joseph a heavenly patron of family life because he sanctified himself as head of the Holy Family and the foster father of Jesus, Our Saviour and also by his beautiful example of sanctified family life. So there is no wonder and surprise in calling him the patron saint of families. Many Christian families admire the family of St. Joseph as the exemplary family to be imitated simply because it is an extraordinary family and at the same time a true family based on the simple yet profound values of human life. Although Jesus is the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, He chose to be born in the family of St. Joseph like any one of us but St. Joseph never bragged about it nor behaved proudly. Instead he exhibited simplicity and humility in accepting to be the foster father of Jesus our Saviour. As Jesus was always obedient to his heavenly Father, so too Joseph was always respective and obedient to his family. He did not merely tell Jesus and Mary that he loved them. He acted out his love. He lived it. That is the secret of true love. He never flinched back in fulfilling the will of God. Therefore every family has to learn a lot from the Holy Family. The qualities such as understanding, love and unity can only be nurtured and developed in a family. In fact Joseph was a descendant of the Royal family of David yet he lived in comparative obscurity and a ‘nobody’ in the world’s eyes. However, he too faced difficult family problems such as, Mary’s pregnancy, the threat to the life of the child, the exile to a foreign land, how to make ends meet by the work of his hands. But unlike St. Joseph, we often have an idealised understanding of family life. As the saying goes “unless one jumps into the well, one doesn’t know the real depth of the well”. This is where St. Joseph once again remains a true model for a true family life.
Fr. Denis McBride, a Redemptorist priest and a well-known scriptural scholar would say that we meet St. Joseph in scriptures only when his life is interrupted especially when…
News of Mary’s Pregnancy – Joseph plans to divorce her quietly (Mt: 1: 19)
When he is asleep, he is interrupted again in a dream. The Angel tells him to take Mary home. According to Matthew’ Gospel, Jesus is born in a home setting. (Mt: 1: 20)
He gets interrupted again by the Magi. (Mt: 2: 11)
He is again interrupted by the news to go out to Egypt. (Mt: 2: 13)
He prepares to come back home but (Mt: 2: 20)
He is told not to go home but to northern part of Nazareth (Mt: 2: 22)
In this way, at every crucial moment of decision making, St. Joseph’s life is interrupted. This is a man who totally adjusts himself to fit into the life of a woman which is utterly opposite in the social context of our cultures and contrary to the conventional values of our societies.
He gives up his priorities in order to accommodate Jesus and Mary and above all the will of God. Therefore, let us, like St. Joseph, see God’s providence in everything that enters our lives: the disappointments and failures, the unexpected turn of events, the frustrating delays, the unwanted demands on our time, the strange behavior of some people and the mysterious silence of God who often hides the purpose He has and yet tells us, through people—that is the key, through people—what He wants us to do.
In the company of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, parents and their children can also grow in wisdom, in favour with God (Lk. 2:52) and in love. Human love, on which the family is founded and maintained, flourishes like that of Joseph and Mary when it is animated by the grace of God from above. Through Joseph and Mary, however God who is the source of love, lived among us and continues to live among us if we keep Him in our midst (Mt. 18:20). And so Nazareth is like a compass in these confusing times, gently showing what the family is meant to be in God's plan: the cradle of life and the sanctuary of love.
Fr. Thomas Yellavula mhm
We need to realize that, like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, our task is to increase “in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favour” during our journey in faith, both guiding, and being guided by, our children. It is within the family that human life in all its stages is nurtured and protected, where concern for others is learned and where the virtues are developed for the good of the individual, the family, and the society. So let us make our families dear to us and live our love for one another.
Let us therefore ask St. Joseph to protect our families as he did his own. May he help us to discern God’s hand in the ups and downs of family life. May he help us with our financial problems so that we don’t allow money or material things to spoil the bond that unites us as a family.
Fr. Thomas Yellavula mhm