EP: Psalm 14; 2 Chronicles 6:12-17; Ephesians 3:14-21
We have the feast day of St. Joseph, Jesus' father, today. I have read, quite recently, people saying that Joseph should not be known as the father of Jesus because his "seed" did not participate in Jesus' creation. I think these folks are pretty jerky. For what better definition of "father" is an individual who: shelters, cares for, protects, rears, trains in a profession, instills an understanding of faithfulness in a child, youth and young adult? What better definition of parent can there be? There are many people whose "seed" helped create a human being, who do not deserve the title "father" or "mother". Those should be earned, because of an individual's efforts and motivation and caring love. Holy Women, Holy Men tells us that St. Joseph is the patron saint of working people, because he was a carpenter. Although valid, should he not also be the patron saint of all those individuals who adopt children and become their parents, even though the egg/sperm donors are someone else?
We hear so little about Joseph, except for his responding to God's instructions: to accept Mary and the baby, to protect them by taking them to Egypt. Yet Jesus was not only known as the carpenter's son, but as a carpenter himself. And like so much in Scripture, so much is left unstated, we are forced to extrapolate what we can from the meager representations of important individuals. This absence of detail causes mystery, but I do not believe that mysterious quality of Joseph (and so many other partially developed characters in scripture) is a bad thing, as so much of our belief is based on faith.
The prayer we have in Ephesians in the EP portion of today's readings sums up this necessary mysterious quality of how we live out our faith:
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
May Joseph inspire us to be better people to those who we are gifted to have in our lives.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Wet Feet, jfd+ 2010 (unfinished)