We each have an image of a good father, recognizing those characteristics even if our own experiences did not reach the ideals we hold. As a father, Joseph was a protector of his family. He found a place for Mary to give birth; he accepted relocation and exile from his home for a time to flee to Egypt as migrants; he returned home and resumed his labors as a carpenter to provide for their daily bread.
Indeed, in a striking line, Pope Francis notes that “God trusted Joseph, as did Mary, who found in him someone who would not only save her life but always provide for her and her Child.”
We assume he went to the synagogue, no doubt bringing Jesus along; he had human friendships with his relatives and neighbors; he did business with his customers and cared for the home he was creating for Mary, whom he deeply loved. These ordinary domestic moments are possible in every family, and like Joseph, we can live them in profound awareness that even the routines of life have Jesus at their center, Who dwells in every home as a domestic Church.
In John 5:19, Jesus says: “Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also.” While the text goes on to refer to God the Father, I believe Jesus also refers to His boyhood experience with Joseph, who showed him what he was doing – not only in the woodshop, but in all the everyday tasks and chores of life. In His divinity, Christ knows all; in His humanity, as Luke tells us, He had to learn and grow in age, grace, and favor. He learned to speak, to read, to pray, to clean His room, to study, to tell time, to care for His body – all those things that parents teach their children, Mary and Joseph taught Jesus.
What are you grateful to have learned from your father? What might Joseph wish to teach you?