March 19 is the Solemnity of St. Joseph.
By Dean Walz
As I think back to the birth of each of my three daughters, I remember being at a loss for words, laughing and crying with joy over the absolute beauty of the miracle of life.
As I looked down at each of my tiny, beautiful daughters, I was amazed at how perfect they were, yet so helpless and dependent on my strength and protection in order to survive. Nothing could have prepared me for the moment that I realized that the journey of fatherhood was about something so much greater than I ever could have dreamed.
Can you imagine the joy and awe that Joseph felt when Jesus was born? The privilege of being a father is having a front-row seat to all of the joys, sufferings, milestones, successes and failures of your children’s lives.
Joseph had this same front-row seat to all of the beauty and challenges of Jesus’ life. Joseph not only taught his son how to pray, work and love, but he also led Jesus by his example of total trust in the Lord and obedience to his will.
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.”
~ ST. FRANCIS DE SALES
There are endless hidden sacrifices that makeup fatherhood. Whether it is missing the Vikings game, taking on an extra job or having to get up for work after being up all night with the kids, these sacrifices are a subtle yet powerful example of what true love looks like.
St. Joseph’s sacrifices often do not get as much credit as they deserve. There are many of his sacrifices that we do know about — for example, going to Bethlehem for the census when his wife was about to give birth, having to flee to Egypt to keep his child safe or losing Jesus for three days in Jerusalem — but I am sure there are countless more that were never recorded. The beauty of these sacrifices is that Joseph never sought his own glory but rather did them all with a quiet strength that can only come from God.
I think a great father is someone who is strong in his beliefs but also gentle and understanding. He needs to know when to push his children and when to just listen.
Jesus spent the first 30 years of his life being formed within the heart of the family, years that would prepare him for his public ministry and eventually the sacrifice of his own life. When my daughters were old enough to leave home, I prayed that I had done all that I could to prepare them for their own personal mission from God. I’ve heard it said that as a parent, the days are long, but the years are short. It is so essential to be living out your vocation to the full every day, loving your children through joyful sacrifice, even when it goes without recognition.
St. Joseph is an example to all fathers of providing a daily witness of true strength and gentleness, preparing our children well in the ordinary moments of each day. We will all fall short of this at times, but we have a powerful intercessor to help us be the fathers we are called to be. St. Joseph, pray for us!