Today we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus and husband of Mary, Mother of God. Joseph, like Mary, is specially chosen to be Jesus earthly foster father, as Mary is specially chosen to be Jesus’ Mother, having conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary becomes pregnant with Jesus during her betrothal to Joseph and before she and Joseph lived together. Joseph agonizes over what to do, as he does not want to expose her and risk that she be stoned to death by the authorities of his day. So, being a just man, kind and compassion ate, he decides to divorce Mary quietly. “Such was his intention,” Matthew tells us in today’s Gospel, Mt. 1L: 16, 18-21, 24a, “when, behold, the angel of the Lord appear to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” On awakening, Joseph does as the angel commanded.
Joseph witnesses to the faith of a righteous man, a man willing to sacrifice for the sake of others! How willing am I to make sacrifices for others or how attentive am I to the messengers God sends into my life to alert me to an action I need to take to protect others in danger of being harmed by another, whether that harm is death itself or the result of decisive action that could lead to an unnecessary death. Why? Because they might die of an otherwise treatable illness for which they cannot afford recommended medication or treatment for lack of insurance lost by the appeal of the ACA. Or a message to do that which would reconcile one to one’s spouse or children but which is ignored because it “cost” too much for one’s pride to swallow! Or a choices I regret not making: “If only I had been there for her/him,” “if only had been more attentive, perhaps my son/my daughter would not have run away,” “if only I had helped my son/my daughter get the help he/she needed, things might have turned out differently.” “If only I would not have enabled my son/my daughter to act irresponsibly (I assumed responsibilities that were theirs, as adults to assume), he/she would have begun to make adult choices.” Is it possible, that, at the end of the day, these regrets, or any others, are part of having ignored the Spirit’s nudges, unlike Joseph?