Monday, March 19, 2018

Saint Joseph Understands the Difficulties of Ordinary Life

Happy Feast of Saint Joseph!

In some countries (including Italy), today is the traditional "Father's Day." I'm playing that up around here for all it's worth, haha!😊

But seriously, what would we do without this great friend of our souls, who took such courageous and tender care of the child Jesus and Mary, his mother.

Joseph knows the struggles of this life that we all live. He is very close to us. He accompanies us through the big upheavals that change everything in a short space of time. And he is also with us during the many more ordinary sorrows and joys, surprises, routines, work and rest, changes, expectations, disappointments.

No one understands better than Joseph the dramatic nature of life. Life is vocation. This means that life will not allow us to stand still. In every circumstance, we find ourselves called forth, summoned. Life points us toward a destination, and places us on the road.

As Christians we know that we are challenged every day to grow in the grace and love of God, to become the person that the Lord wills each of us to be. We are called to be His children, and ultimately to be fulfilled by sharing in His glory. The mercy of Jesus is there to sustain us--His mercy is moved especially by our frailty and poverty--and therefore hope must illuminate every step of the journey.

One beautiful feature of that hope is the companionship of those who have already arrived, who are with the Lord. We know that they remain accessible to us, that they participate in the mercy that Jesus gives us.

In giving us himself, Jesus gives us brothers and sisters from every time and place who live in him. Everything belongs to Jesus and comes from Jesus. But this does not eliminate the personalities of the saints. On the contrary, it establishes and gives eternal contour to each one of them.

Not surprisingly, Saint Joseph engages all of God's people in a very special way. He is the "patron of the Universal Church."

When we celebrate a "feast day," we open ourselves to a foretaste of the joy of eternal life with God and the saints in glory. We can even say, perhaps, that the particular saint "shares his or her own joy with us" on these days.

Every year, this day is a celebration of a very personal relationship for me. Saint Joseph has been my father-in-faith, my friend, my benefactor for many, many years. He has taken care of me from my student day to marriage, and thereafter, he has taken care of us, the Janaro family.

He is just like the Joseph of Sacred Scripture: silent, in the background, ready to take us up in the midst of change and even danger and quietly see to it that we have what we really need (which has so often been different from what we thought we needed at the time).

After our firstborn son John Paul, we were determined to name a child after Saint Joseph, as a way of acknowledging his great care for us in the communion of saints. But we kept having girls.

We finally got tired of Joseph's humble attempts to "hide," (😉) and thus our youngest became Josefina. He responded by taking very special care of her.

I talk to St. Joseph every day. I ask him to obtain for me the grace to be the person, the man, the husband, and the father that God wills me to be. I thank him for always being there for us. Ever since the angel came to assure him that he really did have a role in the mystery of the redemption, he has been there to protect and care for Jesus and Mary and the whole world of Mary's children, Jesus's brothers and sisters.

My own fatherly heart is full of gratitude to him. Of course this is truly and fundamentally gratitude to God who is the giver of every gift. But God doesn't just give some abstract or magical kind of help. God makes us "gifts" to one another. God's love generates relationships of persons who share in his love, a communion of persons, a real family.

What a tremendous family we have all been given as we share together this journey of life with Jesus and with those who have gone before us.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you Saint Joseph!