Joseph Husband of Mary

19 March 2009 Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary
2 Samuel 7, 4-16; Psalm 89; Rom 4, 13-22; Matthew 1, 16-24

It is said that in today’s world, patriarchy or matriarchy is considered an enemy of equality. And since a large number of single-parent families are headed by women, the father’s role now seems confusing. In a changing world where we are becoming more socially equal, what lies ahead of the role of fatherhood?

Though this is a brewing issue, I still believe in a family with the father as the head. His job is to discipline, educate and prepare children for the world. Of course, I am talking about an ideal complete family. If in families where one or both parents are absent, then we make do of what is best in that particular situation. I hope I don’t get into hot water. There is danger of me being accused at every side: you talk about fatherhood, you raise the eyebrows of women; you talk about motherhood, you get a stern look from the fathers. But since it is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, then I have reason to talk about the father’s role both personally and experientially. And this is not a paper on equality; but on our uniqueness. We are equal in dignity, but unique in our roles in life.

The ideal Christian family is a complete family. We spend most of our lives preparing for the world within the context of the family. Jesus himself, in his years unmentioned in the Gospels, spent his hidden life under the care of Joseph and Mary. And thus, despite the changing times, the family is and will always be in the plan of God.

And now Joseph. We do not know much about Joseph. We know that he was a descendant of King David based on the genealogy of Matthew and Luke. We know that he spent some time in Nazareth, then Bethlehem, and was exiled in Egypt for a time. We do not know of any spoken word in Scriptures; thus, Joseph was seen as a quiet worker, unassuming but had put his heart and soul into his life and work.

As husband to Mary, God has given Mary a companion in life. And as a father, Joseph has given himself as a gift to Mary and Jesus, using his time and talents at the service to the Messiah himself. And because Joseph was a good husband and father, Jesus obeyed him as a response to his parents’ love. However, Christian tradition has it that Joseph probably died before Jesus’ public ministry since there is nothing written about him from that time, and Mary has been alone in His passion.

But in Joseph, we see the personal meaning of work in the context of the family. We know that he was a tekton, a skilled artisan, a professional carpenter who works with wood, steel and stone. A tekton was not just a house builder, but a ship builder. It is through Joseph’s profession that he was able to provide for his family. Work was an expression of his concern for them, and thus it deepened his capacity to love by bringing his family together. Think of the family who eats together: the food on the table, wrought by the hands of the parents, enriches each member of a family. Food not just nourishes the body, but the spirit. I remember how my family became closer because of the stories we share at table. Work acquires personal meaning when it is an expression of our love for people who matter. Through the inspiration of Jesus who identifies himself as the carpenter’s Son, then we too acquire honor and identity by the work that we do. It is sad that some interpret the role of the father as just provider, in the sense that many fathers focus on career, money, success and hobbies without nurturing and maximizing their potentials to change the world as fathers to their children. Jesus changed the world.


Margaux said...

Hi Father Jboy! I'm a UP student and I used to attend your daily masses in the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice.
I really find inspiration and insight by listening to your homilies... I miss having you here in UP. I wish you could celebrate mass with us again.
It's a good thing to know that you keep this blog to post your recent homilies. I'll drop by often!

Jessel Gerard said...

Thanks Margaux. I missed UP too. But it seems the parish priest doesn't want me there. I do my ministry outside the walls of the parish. We have a regular Sunday mass at 6PM Church of the Gesu, Ateneo de Manila University. It is open to everybody. Come and join us. I am the priest for the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Sunday. Do take care and will continually pray for you.

Jboy SJ

Anonymous said...

I've only met you once or twice Fr Jboy.

But through your homilies blog I feel I've gotten to know you more and gotten closer to God too.

In my Catholic prayer community, men are taught not just to be providers but priests of their families and protectors too.

It's true what you've said about a father's role which is to be head of the family. Wives should be subject to them...For as long as a father loves his wife and family, and is ready to lay down his life for them, like Jesus loves the Church, then he should be obeyed. Once he ceases to love like Jesus...becomes a drunkard, wife beater, violent, then the deal is off ;-)

God keeps you holy, father!