Friday, March 19, 2010

We Both Had Dads Named Joseph

Where I live, boisterous St. Patrick's Day parties have a way of spanning most of a week, drowning out today's whispered feast of St. Joseph. Not to be deterred, I honor this day for personal reasons--the least of which is my Italian heritage, with its historical devotion to Mary's husband.This day has personal meaning because my father was Joseph, my mother Josephine. My middle name is Joseph.

The first Scripture reading in the Roman Catholic Liturgy on this day pays homage to Joseph's livelihood in the construction trade. "Are you able to build a house for me to live in?" Yahweh asks in 2 Samuel 7:5. 

It was my reflection on the gospel text from Matthew 1 that shone a light on what has been a shadowed recess in my spiritual understanding. 

Lord, I can imagine your dad, proud and gentle, cradling you in the crook of his well-muscled arm. Did your parents ever share with you how close they came to breaking off their betrothal because of you?

*  *  *

I never thought of it before, Lord, but I wonder if the memory of your father's death contributed to the welling of grief and the tears you shed at your friend Lazarus's tomb . . . "and Jesus wept" (John 11:35). Were you reliving the day when you stood at your newly widowed mother's side, supporting her grief, holding your own in abeyance for her sake? Did  the raising of Lazarus offer you a second chance to get it right, after responding to a different call of divine destiny, when your dad passed?

*  *  *

Lord, you learned from both your mom and dad the importance of "doing God's work God's way," as Sr. Joan Chittister puts it. What a stunning statement! It reminds me that many of us, laity and clergy, old and young, set out to do God's work in the Church, but not all of us do it "God's way," as your dad Joseph did. That is the message for me today. Show me the "Joseph way" of ministry, "God's way."

(c) 2010 by Alfred J. Garrotto
All rights reserved

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