One of the Gospel passages I proclaim at the Liturgy during the last days of Advent contains the words of an angel to Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, and Joseph’s response. I suggest that it speaks in a unique way to Christian men:
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary; of whom Jesus was born, he who is called Christ. Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly.
But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” (Matthew 1:16-24)
Since the fourteenth century there has been a day set aside in my Christian tradition to honor Joseph by reflecting on his example. He is viewed as the Patron of the universal Church, of husbands and of all workers. He is called the model of “social justice” — the real deal, that is, not the leftist political counterfeit which has stolen the phrase as of late.
I suggest that this simple Carpenter who taught the Child Jesus how to work with wood, is a vital witness for this hour. This Jesus, who learned to work with wood from the hands of his foster father Joseph, saved the whole world by embracing the wood of the Cross at the age of 33.
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