Monday, March 19, 2012

A Man to Emulate

It seems rare today for children to be raised by their biological father.  With so many divorces and remarriages, it's no wonder some kids are confused and rebellious. Becoming a step-father (new fathers, foster fathers, etc too) can bring so much joy if there is love and patience (especially during the teenage years!).  It's a privilege and honor to be given children other than your own to nurture.  Today we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  And, earthly father of Jesus.  Here is a man who discovers his betrothed is with child, and not biologically his. Yet when an angel of the Lord visited Joseph in a dream telling him to take Mary as his wife in his home, he did exactly as God asked.  He became the best father he could be to the child within.  He loved and protected Jesus as if his very own.  St. Joseph is a shining example of what it requires to love another's child.  It's what every father and step-father must emulate.

In today's Gospel (Luke 2:41-51a), Jesus shows His respect for both Joseph and Mary:

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.

Can you imagine a twelve year old listening to his step-father in today's society?  I have met exceptional step-fathers who love and nurture their stepchildren.  And, I have met men who could care less about their stepchildren. If they only knew the precious gift God graced them with to love and protect . . .

In Volume Six, St. Joseph Speaks to Fathers, he gives guidance in being the best father for those little souls with which you have been blessed:

“. . . What I want to stress to you, fathers of the world, is that your children need your love, along with these other things. Children, more than anything, must know that their father loves them and considers them precious. Your actions every day will tell your children how you feel about them. If you are called on to correct a child, do so gently, with love. If a child angers you, you must remember that you were once a child and made similar mistakes. Do not frighten your children, fathers. This is not love. This is the opposite of love. Your child should respect you, of course, and you should not tolerate behavior that will not be welcome in the Kingdom, but expect some bad behavior and expect to have to gently correct your children. Fathers often make the mistake of thinking that their primary function with children is that of disciplinarian. This is an error. Your primary function as a father is to love and then to set an example that your children can follow which will result in eternity in heaven. Are you doing this, dear man? Be vigilant in examining your own behavior and be certain that your children are not mimicking something in you when they misbehave. This is important, so pay heed.”

If only all fathers could read this and follow in St. Joseph's footsteps.  He did, after all, raise the Son of Man, our Savior Jesus Christ!  He loved and protected Mary and Jesus. As parents, shouldn't we do the same?

Thank you, Lord, for giving me an earthly father who loved and cared for me the best he could.  I pray all fathers heed the words of St. Joseph above.  

God bless,

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