Joseph — appreciate the ordinary
Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster-father of Jesus is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. Nothing much is known about him; even when his name is mentioned, its just mentioned in passing many a times.
- He decided to marry a young girl named Mary. But she was found pregnant before the marriage. I am not sure whether this girl would fit in the category of women caught in adultery (imagine the scene where the elders wanted to stone a woman caught in the act of adultery). Let’s not get into all the names our society will use for such a girl. Now Joseph decided to dismiss her quietly. Or he doesn't want to shame her in any way. He was not part of the moral police who have prescribed to themselves a divine right to shame all ‘so-called’ sinners.
- He had a message in his dream? Why he had to believe the dream? And believing and following the dream wont give him any good title in that patriarchal society. He would be also shamed in some way. Yet, he took the risk and walked in faith believing in God. Yes, his risk is second only to Mary.
3. Who is the most important character of the Holy Family? Jesus. The second one is Mary, and the last one is Joseph. There are lot of pathways for jealousy. But he did the job assigned to him; he did the God's will for him. Yes, vocation is not about the doing the most important job (we keep it for another time, who decides on what is the most important job) in the church or the society; it is about living your life in accordance to God's will.
4. He was a carpenter, like many ordinary workers of the society. He was the guardian of the Holy Family, like many security people, caretakers or even maids. When Joseph is appreciated, it is in some sense, an appreciation of all the taken for granted jobs in the society. Joseph may remind us that we should appreciate them more.
5. I have seen a beautiful video where the anchor asks a small girl, pointing at her father, “Do you love your father?” She says, “he is not my father; he is my dad.” The anchor applauds and says, any man may become a dad, but it takes much more to become a dad. Joseph was surely a dad to Jesus. (For me, this is his biggest quality). These experiences helped Jesus in relating to God, the father… his daddy…his Abba.
Joseph and his feast is a celebration of the ordinary life. Ordinary things are done many a times with a lot of love and care, which are often not seen. Covid experience showed to us many such warriors, which includes family members too. Appreciating them, and appreciating the ordinariness, may be a meaningful way to celebrate the feast of Joseph.