Friday, March 19, 2010

St. Joseph Day

For all of you who aren't particularly Irish and who kind of feel both like you don't particularly care about St. Patrick's day and/or the Irish in general, today is the feast of St. Joseph. In the Catholic Church, you might consider the anti-Irish celebration. It's claimed by the Germans, Itialians, Poles, and others who basically got tired of the Irish polluting rivers and making a fool out of themselves two days before.

I heard a great presentation on St. Joseph when I was visiting my good friend Fr. Henry Huber in North Central Iowa where he is pastor of six parishes. He does something called 13 hours involving prayer, reconciliation, and catechesis. The person doing the catechesis talked about St. Joseph, mostly in the context of the Old Testament patriarch Joseph. she really did a great job. There was only one thing with which I kind of disagreed.

She assumed that St. Joseph died surrounded by Jesus and Mary who mourned his loss. Of course, scripture is silent on the matter. Yet, I have often thought that it's possible Joseph died without understanding Jesus' ministry at all. In the gospel of Luke, there's a story of Jesus bar mitzvah where he is found in the Temple by his mother and father. Mary and Joseph ask where he was and he responds, "Didn't you know I'd be in my Father's House?" It then goes on to say, "and Mary kept these things in her heart." Why not Mary and Joseph? What if Joseph's job wasn't to understand Jesus? What if his job was to protect him when he needed to be protected and then get out of the way? I find hope in this St. Joseph because he says that even people who had a close relationship to Jesus may not completely understand how it all works. It doesn't mean we can slack off and not even try. In fact, it should impel us to work even harder knowing that St. Joseph is helping us to know as much as we can about the mystery of Jesus' salvation.

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