The early American Indians had a unique ritual in their training of young boys to be brave and strong in their lives.
The evening of the boy’s thirteenth birthday, would consist of the final test, after having learnt hunting, exploration, fishing and other skills.
The boy was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire night all alone.
Until then, he had never been away from the security of the family and the tribe.
But on this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away.
>> When the blindfold was taken off, he would find himself in the midst of the thick woods…
… and he would be terrified!
Every time a branch snapped or something fell, he visualized a wild animal ready to pounce.
> His heart would pound with fear…
> He would seek for some consolation, but would find none..
> He would long to feel safe again, but the wait seemed to be an unending one…
After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest…
Looking around, the boy saw the wild flowers, lush trees, and the outline of the path.
Then, to his utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow.
Guess who it was ?
It was his father!
He had been there all night long.
The boy had been unaware, but the father was always there, to make an intervention, in case of any eventuality of danger.
The protection of the father encircled the child, irrespective of whether the boy was aware or not.
Such is the tremendous protection and security of God, our Loving Father.
In the fullness of time, when God, the Father decided to send His Beloved Son to the earth, for the redemption of humankind, He had to entrust the care of His Precious Child to the protection and care of a human father…
>> And it was St Joseph who was chosen to be assigned this task and responsibility of being the caretaker and protector of Jesus, the Son of God!
The Gospel of the Day introduces and portrays the beautiful personality of St Joseph.
>> It is also an invitation to look to this Great Saint and draw inspiration from his life.
Just as God had entrusted Him to be the protector of the body of Jesus while on earth, St Joseph is also the protector and patron of His Body on the earth today, the Holy Church.
St Joseph in fulfilling his task of being the protector of Jesus, teaches us a few lessons…
1. He was ever prompt to the voice of the Lord
In his moments of confusion, he was still open to the promptings of the Spirit.
“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him…” (Mt 1:24)
>> Am I docile to the inspirations of the Lord, so as to be in greater tune with the Will of God?
His love was attentive to the needs of the Divine Child and the Mother.
2. St Joseph was ready to make any sacrifice for the sake of protecting Jesus and Mary.
He was willing…
…to undergo societal humiliations
… to bear physical hardships of travelling, migration, lack of comforts etc
… to be prudent to the socio-political situations and make decisions in favour of the family
>> Does love prompt me to be attentive and sensitive to the needs of others, and cause me to make sacrifices towards the good of the other?
3. A willingness to be playing the “backdrop role” in the great drama of salvation.
St Joseph, was privileged to be sharing the most intimate physical presence with the two holiest persons of this world – Jesus, the Son of God and Mary, the Immaculate Mother.
Yet, it also meant that Joseph had to stay away from the limelight of glory and be the “silent yet impactful” figure of the salvation history.
> Do I have the courageous humility to take up any role that the Lord entrusts me, in His plan of salvation – be it shorn of fame, littleness in glamour or even subject to awkwardness and uncertainty
4. He was ready to give up his personal decisions and doubts in obedience to the voice of God.
St Joseph was not afraid to shed his own personal concerns, anxieties and even doubts, when asked to be part of the mysterious redemptive plan of God.
>> There were many things that were not understood by him…
>> There were a lot of factors that prompted him to question and confront..
Yet, He had the deep daring to keep them all aside – because he was convinced that God’s mighty hand was at work, in them all.
>> Am I willing to place my faith in God and follow my vocation faithfully, even though circumstances around me maybe uncertain, the future looks bleak and my own reasonable thinking may see situations and people as being illogical, unscientific and irrational?
As St. Alphonsus Liguori says:
“We should, indeed, honour St. Joseph, since the Son of God Himself was graciously pleased to honour him by calling him father.
If the King of kings was pleased to raise Joseph to so high a dignity, it is right and obligatory on our part to endeavour to honour him as much as we can!”
The Lord protects us, no matter how fearful the external situations are…
>> He is the loving Father, who is always with us – we realise or not!
St Joseph gave heed to the voice of the Lord…
… and positively responded to the task that was entrusted to him by God, despite hardships and trials…
Shall we also not trust in Heavenly protection, and in turn, be a protector and defender to each other?
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “O what a Saint is the glorious St Joseph!
Not only is he a patriarch, but he is the corypheus of all the patriarchs.
>> Not only is he a confessor, but he is more than a confessor, because in his confession is contrained…
… the dignity of bishop, the generosity of martyrs and of all other saints!”