Andrew and I are in the middle of the St. Joseph novena and with each passing day, I’m gaining more hope in Mary’s husband as a leader, provider, and protector of my own family. I feel a pull, an invitation to entrust my worries to him – especially anxieties concerning my marriage and little ones.
Full disclosure: prior to the novena this year, I hadn’t given much attention to St. Joseph. It’s ok for a saint to not be a favorite – I mean they’re all great, but I didn’t feel much of a draw until recently. It seems a little ridiculous considering he’s a major, necessary component of the Holy Family, but I’m caught up on his importance now.
We know that Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world. Similarly, God revealed his plan for humanity through the Blessed Virgin Mary; she was handpicked to be Christ’s mother as well as ours. But St. Joseph? In a family of three members – two of whom are perfect – he doesn’t quite get the same laud. Of course, he was still born with original sin while his family was spared the stain, but as Catholics – Catholic parents especially – it’s paramount that we see St. Joseph as CHOSEN.
Every kid adopted or born into a family grows up emulating his parents’ behaviors. I joke like my mom. I’m pragmatic like my dad. The whole Nurture argument is strongly supported when I take a close look at my mannerisms in light of my parents. And so it was with Jesus. Though fully divine, the Christ Child wasn’t somehow immune to the influence of his surroundings, and that includes his upbringing by his Mother Undefiled as well as his imperfect adoptive father. What’s amazing to consider is that God, knowing Jesus would imitate his earthly father, chose St. Joseph and blessed him with certain characteristics that Jesus himself would eventually emulate: his obedience to the will of God; his trust; his compassionate care for Mary and hard work for his family. St. Joseph was born to raise the Son of God.
Just as we were born to raise the children we have.
God chose with detailed intention the lady to be his mother and the man to be his earthly father. He blessed and chose deliberately out of care for his only Son. 1 John 3:1 says “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” It is because of God’s love for us that he chose us to be parents for our kids with the same care and concern he had for Jesus.
Our fellas and little girl weren’t arbitrarily thrown into the Sciba house – God blessed Andrew and I with the gifts and charisms needed to bring these four little souls back to him.
We parents struggle. We worry. We wonder how our kids will turn out. We wonder if we have what it takes to get through this season of life or all of life.
In blessing us with our children, God simultaneously assures us, “I have what it takes,” because he placed these particular children in our care. The graces, gifts and virtues we’ll need to handle the brilliant mind, the will of iron, and the attention seeker are free for the asking if only we invite the Author of Life into our parenting. By doing so, we can and will give our kids enough of what they need. Sure we’re imperfect, but so was St. Joseph and Jesus turned out all right. St. Joseph himself is a strong beacon of hope for the rest of us imperfect parents. He was chosen. And to be chosen for the task is to be equipped with the graces to do it.
original edition written for The Catholic Connection, March 2016.