Some say that you don’t understand the love of God until you become a parent. On June 25, 2008, we experienced the birth of our first daughter. There is no doubt that my heart soared like an eagle that day. As I embraced my newfound fatherhood more and more that first year of Maria’s life, I felt as if I had a completely new understanding and connection to God the Father. If I, a sinful man, could look over my sleeping child’s bed with a tidal wave of love in my heart, how much more must God the Father love his children? Could it be possible? My human brain cannot even comprehend the depths of such an intense and divine love. One of the greatest gifts the Lord has given us is the gift of fatherhood.
Today is our final day of reflection on Joseph, Spouse of Mary. As we contemplate, it makes sense to bridge this topic with the next: Joseph, Father of Jesus. This gift and dignity that God gives each of us as fathers can only happen in and through our spouse! It’s a very simple truth that is so easily forgotten. We miss it daily. Even when we are conscious enough to thank God for our children, do we thank our spouse? She is the one that gives us our fatherhood. It is only through her that this is possible. She is the vessel in which God awards man with his greatest dignity!
St. Joseph sheds even more light and clarity on this reality. In the mind and heart of Joseph, this truth was even more glaring as he was not the biological father of Jesus. Joseph’s child was not the conception of love between he and his spouse. His child, and therefore his fatherhood, came as a pure gift from the Holy Spirit and Mary. It was the work of God cooperating with the most vulnerable “Yes” in human history. With such a miraculous conception, there is no question that Joseph understood exactly where his fatherhood came from and hence where he owed his deepest gratitude.
Imagine a world in which all husbands adored their children and spouses and went to great lengths to express their love and affection for them. Imagine a world with more men like St. Joseph!
For part one of your examination of conscience today, if you are a father, reflect on how well you have cherished the gift of fatherhood. I have no doubt Joseph considered his earthly fatherhood of the Christ-child to be both his greatest dignity and greatest gift from God.
For part two of your examination of conscience, ponder whether or not your spouse understands the depths of gratitude you have for her in giving you the gift of your fatherhood. Make a resolution today to affirm with her that she has given you the greatest gift. Convey to her the dignity that she deserves. Thank her for her vulnerability. A woman will tell you that her life is flipped upside down when she gets pregnant, especially for the first time. Everything changes. She needs to know what that gift of herself means to you.
Ask St. Joseph to show you the secrets of his heart and therefore set yours ablaze with the love and gratitude for your bride. Ask him to help you love your spouse as he loved Mary.
Heavenly Father, help me to always be thankful for the gift of my spouse. Help me to honor and cherish her all the days of my life. Thank you for bringing us together in your providence.
St. Joseph, unveil for me the love of the Holy Spirit present in my spouse. Amen.