It can be intriguing to ponder the inner workings and interactions of the Holy Family. The first family member in the line-up is the Word Incarnate, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in the flesh. Then, there is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was immaculately conceived and sinless. She embodies the masterpiece of the Father’s creation and is entirely full of grace. Finally, there is St. Joseph, who was a simple carpenter and a man who spoke not a word in the Scriptures.
In this unique family, who was in charge? Who was teaching whom? Is it possible for humans to tell the Christ, the God-Man, what to do? Did they teach him how to do things, when to do things, how to treat people and how to put on sandals? Did his father teach him how to cut and handle wood? Was the Co-Creator of the Universe, who was there in the beginning with God, taught how to craft a table and chair with his own hands? These questions evoke great mysteries worth spending generous time contemplating, even if we cannot definitively come up with precise answers.
We learn from Scripture that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:53). Jesus grew in his understanding of the world and his mission as he developed in age. Jesus was the most perfect version of a three year old, but he grew into the most perfect version of a four year old …and so on. In his humanity, he developed from perfection to perfection.
We can also presume that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Commandments. Therefore, he honored his father and mother more perfectly than any child ever has or ever will. As St. Luke tells us, “he went down with [Mary and Joseph] and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).
If this is true, what can we learn about St. Joseph as a father? How could Jesus have never sinned and always followed the will of the Heavenly Father, while still remaining obedient to his earthly father? The only reasonable explanation is that Joseph must have never asked anything of Jesus that was contrary or in opposition to God’s will. Joseph was so in touch with the will of God the Father that he himself never led Jesus astray… ever. God the Father knew he could choose and entrust Joseph with this unique mission.
Are we single-minded in raising our children in the ways of the Lord? When we teach our children how to make decisions, do we teach them to ask God what he desires and to consider his will for their path? Do we seek God’s will in their choice of friends, in what school they should attend, for which charities they should serve, whom they should date, how they should spend their money, what media they consume, how many siblings they should have and so on? The most important and practical thing we can do in our lives is to follow the will of God. Do we lead our children with this same perspective, or do we simply shelter them from any discomfort that may come their way? Seek the intercession of St. Joseph in raising your children. Ask that he may reveal his wisdom to you so that you may grow in wisdom, knowledge and virtue as an individual and a parent.
Heavenly Father, since you commanded my children to honor me, encourage me to become a more honorable man. Stand by me as I discern your holy will in my own life so that I may guide those entrusted to me in your ways. Let me never lead them astray. Amen.
St. Joseph, reveal to me Christ’s hidden face present in my children. Teach me to manifest for them the Father who is rich in mercy. Amen.