Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Questions and Reflections About Joseph at Christmas

A father writes with a question I'd never stopped to consider.
I don’t see much on Catholic blogs about Joseph. Surely he must be the most famous step-dad. I think modern Catholics could learn a lot from him.

Not all Catholics are married once, forever. Many now are in blended families. Imagine hearing “You’re not my real Dad, I don’t have to do as you say” and knowing that not only is it true, but that you can never hope to compete with Him, either.

Talk about marginalizing a guy. Never quite good enough, but still indispensible (in the Middle East under Roman rule Joseph was utterly necessary to support, raise and protect the Christ child and, of course, Mary on a day-to-day basis). Just quietly sucked it up and went on about his business, I suppose. Seems to have died young, he wasn’t around for the wedding feast at Cana.

Is there anything more written about him after the family gets home from Jerusalem (the second trip, when Jesus ditches his parents so he can hang out with his friends in the temple, causing Mary and Joseph to have what in any other context would be a hilarious “I thought YOU had him” moment)?

Any pointers for modern Catholic stepdads feeling marginalized at Christmas?
There actually is a fair amount written about Joseph on Catholic blogs but it tends to follow the liturgical year's rotation for emphasis on his life.

My own top-of-mind response is that I, personally, love St. Joseph because he is that "go-to" helper for my husband when work isn't going right and he's as frustrated as can be.

I also remember one of our daughters saying, "Poor Joseph. Imagine living with Mary and Jesus ... both without sin and then there's you!"

Certainly I admire his love of Mary (willing to protect her from public shame even before he knew the baby was God's and not another man's), his willingness to do what it took in Bethlehem and Egypt to support his family, and then the fact that he didn't feel he had to speak up all the time (for me that means he was secure, kind of like John Wayne).

Another interesting fact, that you may or may not know, is that under Jewish law adoption was viewed as just as legitimate as being a biological father. They didn't have that "ownership" value that seems to have taken over our society when it comes to babies and adoption.

None of those personal thoughts are necessarily helpful to the father who wrote. Does anyone have a specific answer or place to point?

I also have the following posts from the past which contain food for meditation if not a specific answer. All are invited to ponder St. Joseph as he is revealed therein and see what may be revealed to us in turn.

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