We have journeyed with St. Joseph for thirty days, and at last we have reached the end. That being said, hopefully this book is not the end of your pilgrimage as St. Joseph quietly waits to lead you to even greater spiritual heights.
We began this journey by reflecting upon the fact that God did not need Joseph to accomplish his plan for the salvation of the world, but that in his divine providence he chose him. This helped us understand that God has chosen us as well for a specific vocation. Like St. Joseph, God has chosen us to be a constant source of love for those near to us.
Next, we reflected on the silence and hiddenness of St. Joseph and the fact that we do not have a single spoken word from him in all of Scripture. We learned that his silence and obscurity speaks volumes to us. His profound humility before God paved the way for what would be asked of him. St. Joseph was a living example of the famous quote from St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” It proved unnecessary for St. Joseph to use words but instead to make way for the Word Incarnate, Jesus.
Then we considered the three main vocations, or missions, of St. Joseph. He was a just man before God, the spouse of Mary and the foster-father of Jesus. We reflected upon different aspects for each one of these most worthy missions.
Just Man Before God
St. Joseph was the ultimate “man after God’s own heart” because he always did what the Lord asked. His obedience to the voice of God and the will of God was always instantaneous. He was willing to follow God’s plan for him at all costs and even when it appeared to be far from practical at best. We learned that God seeks such men who are filled with humility and obedience, who trust in his providence, and who love him with their whole hearts to bear great fruit in the world. We asked the Lord to transform us into such men.
Spouse of Mary
Finding these amazing virtues in St. Joseph, God knew he had a suitable match for his most beautiful masterpiece, the one that was full of grace, our mother Mary. We learned that being the spouse of Mary was not for the faint of heart. Instead it was for the most pure of heart! To be the spouse of the Immaculata herself required heroic purity and sacrifice. From the very onset, from the moment of the Annunciation, things got interesting. Joseph was faced with an unprecedented situation and responded with a foreshadowing answer. He chose mercy. He was willing to destroy his reputation for her apparent shame and take it as if it were his own. God brought clarity to the situation through an angel and thirty-three years later offered his only Son instead to carry the burden of our shame. We asked the Lord to help us love our spouses the way St. Joseph did.
Father of Jesus
The ultimate mission of St. Joseph was to be the foster-father of Jesus. As men, we contemplated the profound quote from Saint John Paul II, “In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family” (Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, #25). By the nature of God’s calling for him, Joseph became the revelation of God the Father to Jesus. “The admirable St. Joseph was given to the earth to express the adorable perfection of God the Father in a tangible way. In his person alone, he bore the beauties of God the Father … one saint alone is destined to represent God the Father” (Fr. Andrew Doze, The Shadow of the Father). In short, we have to learn how to be not just good dads, but great dads. For better or for worse, our children will form part of their concept of God the Father through us, their earthly fathers. This dignity and responsibility as fathers is enormous, but the joys of living this out are indescribable. In our gift of self to our children, we begin to live the life of God. We become the hands and feet of the loving and merciful Father on the earth.
The School of Nazareth
If we have followed the path of Joseph in becoming men after God’s own heart, developed into incredible spouses willing to sacrifice for our brides, and transformed into fathers who allow God’s love and mercy to shine through us, our homes become nothing short of a type of paradise. We have allowed St. Joseph and the Holy Family to teach us their secrets at the School of Nazareth. Tomorrow, we take one final step.
Spend several minutes in silence reflecting on the pathway of St. Joseph and your own journey in the process. Take this opportunity to write down the spiritual insights that he has taught you along the way.
Heavenly Father, our journey with St. Joseph is ultimately a journey towards union with you. You are the one that we seek. You are the one for whom we long. St. Joseph was a just man after your own heart even before Christ came into the world. Therefore, you blessed him with the grace to see the face of God in Jesus Christ. God came to dwell in his home and be with him even here on the earth. Heavenly Father, come be with me. Come into my home. Reveal yourself to me. Open my eyes of faith so that I may see the revelation of your glory in my home. Help me to transform my home into a little Nazareth, a retreat from the world, a little paradise where you are present.
Mystery hidden from the wise and learned,
But revealed to little ones.
Take me to Nazareth and train me in your ways.
Reveal to me Christ’s hidden face present in my children.
Unveil for me the love of the Holy Spirit present in my spouse.
Teach me to manifest for them the Father who is rich in mercy.
Help me to exclude all evil from my heart and my home,
So that we might find union with God,
And experience his love, peace and joy. Amen.
(Prayer written by Steve Bollman.)