Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Good Ol' St. Joe

Today is the solemnity of St. Joseph, the foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the guardian of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron of the universal Church. Such an august occasion ought not to pass without at least a passing remark.

I will focus on one aspect of this great and holy man. Some people object to the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary by claiming it ludicrous and unrealistic that a married couple would live their whole lives without enjoying marital relations. "Who could possibly do that?" they say. Well, with God, all things are possible, as a rather highly placed authority once said. The union of Mary and Joseph was not intended to be one for the purpose of producing children together, but rather of providing a safe and loving and pious home for their son, the Son. Of course, they loved each other, and expressed that love by the love they showed to Jesus. And Joseph showed his love for Mary by honoring her place in salvation history as the New Eve, the new Ark of the Covenant, the Temple and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Joseph's love for Mary was beyond physicality. Joseph "teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing," as Pope Benedict once put it.

St. Joseph serves as a model for consecrated religious, who give their lives for love of God and neighbor without holding onto anything themselves. He can also serve as a model for married couples, to help them remember that there is more to relationships than the physical dimension: there is a deeper, spiritual dimension, which must take precedence, that the physical may take its proper place and thus be fruitful and joy-giving. May we look to St. Joseph in our time of need.

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