The days of preparation of Advent are over and we're now finally celebrating the birth of Christ. I had a particularly fulfilling Advent this year and I hope that your preparations helped you reach today with a greater sense of peace and joy.
It's becoming a tradition that I post some form of reflection on the Holy Family on Christmas Day, and I'd like to continue that today. This is, of course, my 2nd Christmas with Benedict and the reality of being a young father has helped me to see the events of Christmas in a new light.
I particularly want to focus on St. Joseph. I continue to be impressed with his strength of character and commitment to mission. While we focus mainly on Mary's "yes," it can be easy to overlook St. Joseph's constancy and protection.
The Holy Family's journey to Bethlehem, and then on to Egypt, was treacherous. They were fleeing from a hostile and powerful government, they navigated difficult terrain, and they avoided all sorts of thieves on their route. On top of all of this, they cared for a newborn baby. What a trip that must have been!
Joseph was truly a holy man, he'd have to be to accept his mission. Not only was he to take Mary as his wife despite a pregnancy that he may not have fully comprehended, he was then asked to take his family into Egypt and support them there. Being that open to accepting the Will of God required an immense depth of Spirit, and it's something that we should all strive for.
I'm most impressed with Joseph's courage. He was courageous in accepting Jesus as his adopted son, he was courageous in standing up to the societal pressures to divorce and perhaps even to publicly shame Mary, he was courageous in undertaking the journey to Bethlehem with his pregnant wife, and he was courageous in taking his family to Egypt and finding work to support them there.
What does all of this tell us? How can we apply the example of Joseph in our own lives?
First, we should make ourselves open to grace. Joseph was given a tremendous amount of grace to carry out his mission, but he was only ready to accept it because he was disposed to it. A solid relationship with God is foundational in grace on this scale, and yet, many of us are called to similar missions. We're guardians and protectors of our family, and, if we do it well, we can easily become a target of the Devil. So it's good and necessary that we allow ourselves to be as open to God as we can be.
Second, we should place our will second to God's. This is a true challenge. Joseph's life plan probably didn't involve being foster father of the Savior of the World. It was probably more along the lines of running his own carpentry shop. Yet, had Joseph sought to only live out his life plan, no one would know him and God would have had to find someone else to shepherd the young Jesus.
Last, we should do everything in the service of our family. It's clear that Joseph was a devoted family man who was intimately involved in the life of the family until his death. He wasn't satisfied with simply providing for the material needs of his family. He was only concerned with their happiness and fulfillment.
St. Joseph is a powerful and silent role model for us as men. May we do a better job filling his shoes in 2015 than we did in 2014.
Thank you so much for being a part of this Catholic Husband community! I wish you and your family a happy, blessed, and fulfilling Christmas and I look forward to continuing to serve you in the future!