Fr. Scott A. Haynes
The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph teach us how to trust in the providence of God and make Christ the focus of our lives. Just as the actions of one couple, Adam and Eve, had hellish consequences for the human race at the beginning of the Old Testament, so too the actions of another couple, Mary and Joseph, had heavenly consequences for mankind at beginning of the New Testament. Every time you say “no” or “yes” to sin you are affecting many others. What consequences our actions can have on thousands and millions of others.
Marriage and virginity are two signs of the love of God for us and we see both of these united in the first couple of the New Testament, Mary and Joseph. Joseph is a model of chastity for men just as Our Lady is the prime example of chaste living for all women. The chastity of Joseph and Mary is a challenge to our times when the sanctity of marriage and fidelity to one’s spouse for life are no longer respected. Although Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, he was a true father to Jesus. When Jesus was found in the temple, Mary said to Jesus,
“Behold thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” (Luke 2:48).
We can imagine the love and affection between Joseph and Jesus, and between Joseph and Mary. We can imagine Joseph’s pain at the poor circumstances of Jesus’ birth. We can imagine the pain that he must have suffered when Simeon told Mary that Jesus would be a sign that would be opposed and that a sword would pierce Mary’s soul (Luke 2:34-35). We can imagine the pain Joseph suffered when he had to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt for safety to preserve their lives. What gave Joseph the strength to endure all the trials his vocation brought him? It was obviously his life of prayer that gave him the strength to be obedient to God’s call to him. He was a just man, a man of honor as the Gospel today tells us (Matt. 1:19).
We should consider how he, as the head of the Holy Family, wants to intercede for us. In the early 1980’s a woman visited the Convent of the Religious of St. Joseph at Bessillon in France where Joseph had appeared. She was expecting her fourth child and was very ill. The doctors told her the only way she could survive was to have an abortion. They even told her it was her duty since she already had three children to mind. She went to a priest who told her to go to Mass for nine consecutive days at St. Joseph’s Convent in Bessillon. The child was born at full term with no defects and she has given birth to another two boys since then.
The celebration today of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, reminds and challenges us to value our family life, hidden from the world – even hidden in the womb. Today, more than ever, with the Christian family under attack, let us renew our love for our families and let us follow Mary and Joseph, for they lead us to the Temple – they lead us to Jesus Christ.