“Let your life be free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for as it is said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’”
It is well known that many men struggle with the art of comparison. For some of us, it is an innate tendency toward competition. For others, it can be a badgering subconscious desire to size up the next guy. However it manifests itself, the majority of men are driven by a need to out-play, out-perform and out-do the competition in order to feel successful and fulfilled.
For most of our marriage, my wife and I have done ministry work within an affluent parish community. While our career choices definitely imply that we are not in our fields for the money, we have been invited to rub elbows in more than a few mansions over the years. Although I am 100% dedicated to the work my wife and I have chosen, I must admit that every once in a while, temptation knocks on my heart. In those moments when I compare myself to others, I ask, “Am I providing sufficiently for my family?” When I begin to equate my financial successes with my value as a husband and father, a subsequent question arises: “Am I a failure?”
I am probably not the only man who has had these temptations occasionally whispered in his ear. Three of the four Gospels recount Satan’s same temptation of Christ himself, as he offered Christ the power and luxuries of the world. The Lord countered Satan’s empty promises by vowing to us that when we reject the love of money and success, he doesn’t leave us with a void. Instead, he fills us with his very self. He promises, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” The honest truth is that many of us are slaves to comparison, but Christ promises to set us free.
Of course, there is a man who heroically lived this truth with an unshakable trust paired with an unprecedented mission. While there are other men out there who are competing against you, St. Joseph isn’t one of them. Joseph unspeakably stands as an amazing example of sanctity and what it means to be a real man. When I humbly invited St. Joseph to be an active presence in my life, I found that he didn’t make me feel like a failure. On the contrary, Joseph gently whispered, “Mark, let me show you a more exceptional way. Let me come into your heart and your home and bring peace.” He doesn’t go to work for me, pay the bills or take care of the kids, but I appreciate that he does so much more!
Joseph is a gentle and loving father, a man after God’s own heart. He is the man we all want to be. I would venture to say that during your journey through this book, St. Joseph will bring about a deeper relationship with you. This is because Joseph wants nothing more than to deliver you to God the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ. St. Louis de Montfort calls Mary the shortest, quickest, easiest way to Jesus. St. Joseph shares in this very mission. Get to know the entire Holy Family, and expect your heart to be transformed!
As you personally draw closer to the humble St. Joseph, you will likely discover his heroic sanctity. This sanctity may bring to light an even greater perspective on your weaknesses and selfishness. Remember those whom God has chosen before you and never despair.
Abraham lied and was too old. Sarah laughed at God’s promises. Moses stuttered. David was an adulterer and accomplice to murder. Hosea’s wife was a prostitute. Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning. Jacob was a liar. Solomon was too rich. Jeremiah was too young. Naomi was a widow. Noah got drunk. Jonah ran from God and got swallowed by a whale! Mariam was a gossip. Thomas doubted. Peter denied Christ three times. Paul was a murderer. So was Moses. Jesus was too poor. (Author unknown).
We all have issues, insecurities and sins. Ask God for his infinite mercy and for St. Joseph to guide you beyond your weaknesses.
Heavenly Father – Thank you for the gift of your mercy and forgiveness. Help me not to compare or evaluate my spiritual life or my dignity based upon the lives of others, but instead let me focus upon my relationship with you. You are my Father, and I am your son. Thank you for the gift and example of your servant, St. Joseph.
St. Joseph – illuminate the darkness that shrouds your life. Pierce the silence that hides your wisdom. Amen.