Jesus never had a wife. He never had a family for which he had to make provisions. Yes, I understand that the Church is his bride and that he would have had to provide for his mother and that we are all, in some sense, his children. Still, as a husband and father, it is sometimes hard for me to look to Jesus as the model of my behavior. I am tied down in a way that he never was.
The Church also proposes to us the Blessed Virgin Mary as a model of holiness. Again, the argument can be made that, as a parent, she raised the Son of God and that, when Jesus from the cross, entrusted to her motherhood the beloved Apostle, he was entrusting to her motherhood all believers. But I’m a little old-school in thinking that motherhood is a little different from fatherhood. The ideal of the perfect woman cannot be applied to a man to arrive at the perfect man.
I have, for a long time, had a special devotion to St. Joseph. As a husband and a father, he provides an example that I often have trouble seeing in Jesus or Mary. On occasion, I find myself wondering, “What would Joseph do?”
When I have a busy week, with meetings and activities every night, I can't help but wonder whether St. Joseph would have done all this. Would he have been on the pastoral council at the local synagogue? Would he have participated in the local Jewish Men's Fellowship? Would he have coached a sports team or led a cub scout den for little Jesus?
I have trouble picturing it. He seems to me to have been a just man who worked hard, loved his family, and sought righteousness before God. Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God -- isn't that the message of the prophets? So why do I feel compelled to try to do more? Taking Joseph as a model, my most important tasks in life are to love God, love my wife, and love my children.
Things sometimes seem harder for me. My wife, though she has many virtues, was not immaculately conceived. There are rare occasions when she makes it hard for me to be holy. My six children, likewise, are not like us in all things but sin. When it comes time for them to go to Confession, they might claim to be sinless, but their parents know better. Joseph didn't have to work with the family that I've got. Yet, perhaps if I were a little more like Joseph, my wife would find it easier to imitate Mary and my children to imitate Christ. I haven't had to flee from any homicidal kings who wish to see my children dead.
I have much to learn from St. Joseph, and I pray that he will intercede on my behalf.
St. Joseph, most chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us!