During the period of the Epiphanies, I like to meditate on the lives of the Holy Family. I imagine Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in their togetherness, one entity, sharing upon each other gifts, living their love and hope daily... For Jesus and Mary, doing this must have come naturally, for they are, after all, perfect and full of grace... but what about Joseph?
There is a light-hearted comment I make about my family that I am sure some of you have heard me say before.
“I have only known of three people who were ‘Perfect’. These are:
1. Our Lord Jesus, God incarnate, Son of the Father.
2. Mary Most Holy, Mother of God and Full of Grace.
3. My Grand Uncle, whose name is ‘Perfecto’ (Perfect in Spanish).”
I often wonder about Perfecto. Being named that must have been tough on him to a certain level. Can you imagine the expectations? I never knew him, but listening to what my family has to say about him, I can say with conviction that he tried hard to live up to his name. He was faithful, kind, and compassionate. He was loving, caring, and hopeful in thought and action. I am sorry I never met him because he sounds just like a person we are called to emulate, not perfect, but perfect for the job at hand, perfect for the time. Does he not sound a bit like Joseph?
Joseph was neither divine nor conceived without sin. He was a normal human being, the same as you or me. He had strengths, weaknesses, and a past but unknown history. Despite his ordinary humanity, he was selected for a higher mission… a mission of faith and courage… a mission of mercy and hope. By Joseph’s yes to the call to serve the mission of mercy and hope, a fiat, he was equipped with the grace needed for every day. I believe with great conviction that he tried hard and with great love to live up to this mission daily. By faithfully completing his required tasks, Joseph helped ensure that Christ’s mission on earth continued.
Would the history of Jesus and Mary among us be the same if not for Joseph’s humility, hope, and obedience? We know the story of Joseph receiving a command from an angel in a dream to take the Holy Family and evade the murderous King Herod. Joseph’s courage, obedience, and humility allowed him to flee Egypt without a doubt. He obeyed with hope.
Joseph’s connection to the Holy Spirit made him decisive in his obedience and perfect in his hope. But even then, was Joseph perfect? No, neither of state nor of name... but he was the perfect person for the task at that most crucial time in history. For his myriad virtues exercised into practice, Joseph is a Saint! And he has been given to us as a perfect foster father and model to follow.
With his example, the light of the life of Joseph illuminates the area around Mary and Jesus and points us towards them, still to this day. In him, we find a perfect example of hope, humility, and courage... if we only look.
Oh, to be faithful, courageous, and hopeful as Joseph! We are all called to live up to that perfection required in the present moment, in the moment of requirement, that we may surrender ourselves in the service of the highest call, and that we may do it faithfully, courageously, mercifully, lovingly... and most of all with a heart full of hope!
The story of my great-uncle Perfecto will likely not make it to books, stories, or traditions like the life of Saint Joseph, and neither likely will ours… but let us emulate the good examples of those who have lived saintly lives before us and try to become the best that we can be in service of others, just like Perfecto did emulate Joseph. May we live our lives in that same service of mercy and with the fullness of hope, perfect for the requirements of the moment, in Christ’s name.
Let us pray: Saint Joseph, be our protector, model, and father in the service of Jesus Eucharistic. Intercede for us, our most Saintly Foster Father, that we may hold on to our hope, live our love, and walk our faith. Amen.