Readings for the Feast of St. Joseph, who chose to be father to Jesus
I often think that today would be a good day for the church to celebrate Fathers’ Day rather than going along with the Hallmark™ date. There are not many stories of Joseph but to me they tell of a man who was a dreamer and who listened to his dreams but who was also very practical and able to see what is needed in the moment. James Kiefer gives a good summary of all the passages about Joseph.
Joseph was the first person Jesus probably called “abba” and perhaps Jesus learned about the love from a father from his childhood. Once Joseph got over the shock of Mary’s pregnancy he gave his whole heart to the mission God had given him: providing, protecting, and parenting. According to what we can discern from the Gospels, Joseph did not live to see the terrible events of Jesus’ later life but gave his all to give Jesus a good start in life.
I wonder who is or was Joseph in our lives? How can we be Joseph for all those who never had someone to nurture and provide and protect them? In this day there are so many who feel like orphans – never knowing a Joseph.
J. Barrie Shepherd, Faces at the Manger
“The hardest task
The most difficult role of all
That of just being there
And Joseph, dearest Joseph, stands for that.
Don’t you see?
It is important,
that he stand there by that manger,
as he does,
In all his silent misery
Of doubt concern and fear.
If Joseph were not there
There might be no place for us,
For those of us at least-
So many- who recognize and know-
That heartache, for our own,
Who share that helpless sense
Of lostness, of impotence
In our own lives, our families, our jobs
In our fearful threatened world this night.
Yes, in Joseph’s look of anguish
We find our place;
We discover that we too
Belong beside the manger:
This manger in which are met
God’s peace and all our wars and fears….
Let us be there,
Simply be there just as Joseph was,
With nothing we can do now,
Nothing we can bring-
It’s far too late for that-
Nothing even to be said
Except, ‘Behold- be blessed,
Be silent, be at peace.’
Joseph, son of David,
‘Do not fear,’ the angel said.
And Jim and Alice, Fred and Sue,
Bob and Tom and Jean and Betty too,
The word to you, to all of us
Here at the manger side,
The word is also, ‘do not fear.’
Our God, the Lord and Sovereign,
Maker of heaven and earth,
Time and eternity,
Of life and death and all that is
And shall be,Has joined us in this moment…,”
The Rev. Ann Fontaine is the Interim Rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Astoria, OR. She lives on the coast of Oregon and is the author of Streams of Mercy: a meditative commentary on the Bible.