Feast Day – March 19
There was a time in Hollywood when the most popular leading men were categorized as “the strong, silent type.” Picture John Wayne, Gary Cooper, or Clint Eastwood. Their characters typically did not have too much to say but they got the job done, nonetheless. St. Joseph didn’t have much to say either and he most definably got the job done.
It’s easy to think of Saint Joseph as the strong silent type after all, not one word of sacred scripture is attributed to him. We only get a passing description of him from Saint Matthew who writes that Joseph was a “righteous man.” Now, righteous is a word that carries a bit of baggage as we often associate that word with self-righteous or the kind of spiritual arrogance that is displayed by certain pharisees. Righteous however is defined as “morally right, justifiable or virtuous.” I like to think of a righteous person as someone having not only virtue but the wisdom that comes with virtuous living. It breeds a confidence and a certainty in following the path of the Lord even when that path seems unintelligible to us. Joseph’s path must have seemed incomprehensible to him, yet his faith and trust in God surpassed his understandable confusion.
Consider Joseph’s disappointment and perhaps heart break when he found out that the young girl he was betrothed to was with child. As the Gospel writers tell us he could have rightly divorced her and according to Mosaic Law, Mary could have been stoned to death of this perceived behavior. It was through a dream that the angel of the Lord comforted Joseph and calmed his fears so that he was able to take Mary into his home as his wife. It was an act of tremendous faith and trust in God’s providential love. This was an unconventional beginning to an unusual family life. One that was filled with glorious moments as well as disappointment and apprehension.
Joseph was quite adept at discerning God’s will and he trusted the path that the Lord had laid out for him. It was indeed a difficult path filled with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. It’s a reminder to us that our paths are similar at times. Being open to God and following the Lord does not mean that our lives will be tranquil and carefree. So often, following the Lord means that we do take the more difficult route. It does mean that we will experience setbacks and hardships and that we will carry our crosses. But it is through these trials that our faith is strengthened and our resilience forged. Saint Joseph is an example for us on how to move forward in our own discipleship. Sometimes we just have to endure and get the job done.