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St Joseph, a very special father figure

2017-03-20 08:41

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Take a look at the Holy Family. Mary and Joseph acted very differently towards the child Jesus, who grew up as any other Jewish boy of his time. As his mother, it was Mary’s responsibility to teach Jesus the prayers and traditions of Judaism, a religion which is passed on through the maternal line of the Jewish family. It was, however, Joseph’s role to take Jesus to the synagogue, where men and women prayed in separate places: Jesus would join the men once he was old enough to leave his mother (and could be trusted to behave himself instead of crawling on the floor and playing with another child). It was Joseph who trained Jesus as a carpenter and taught him to take his place as a man among men. We also know that Joseph was just and compassionate. Is it not logical that the just and compassionate Jesus expressed those qualities with something of the flavour he had learned from Joseph? As with any child, is it not equally logical that, growing towards manhood, some of the stories and words that he used might have originated with Mary and Joseph as they distilled the eternal wisdom of God into bite-sized chunks for the sake of the young Jesus?

In any family, mothers and fathers have very different responsibilities regarding their children. The Canadian social scientist, Andrea Doucet, put it quite simply by saying that “fathers do not mother” as she pointed out that “Many a mother has wondered why her husband can’t seem to help himself from ‘tickling and tossing’ their infant - while she stands beside him holding her breath in fear. And he can’t understand why all she wants to do is ‘coo and cuddle’... fathers tend to promote independence, autonomy and risk taking more than mothers”.

One man wrote about what fatherhood means to him: “As a dad, you should strive to let those around you know that you're not just the stern dictator and rule enforcer of the family.  Let them know you have a softer side and a special place for them in your heart.  Children and wives need to know you hold them in high regards and, if you really think about it, you are letting them know you are there to protect them, the most primal of roles for a man, when you let them know you value them.  I always knew that I could call my father at anytime and tell him that I needed him and he would move heaven and earth to get me, help me or find me... I tell my son "Daddy loves you" and I give him a kiss on his forehead every night before he goes to sleep, and every morning I give him a hug and wave to him from the car as I leave.  It's important on many levels.  Not only does he know he's valued, but he sees that I value his mother when I hug or kiss her.  He'll treat his mother, his girlfriend and his wife the same as he sees me treat his mother.”

Jesus needed Joseph’s unique love. That is why we also celebrate the carpenter from Nazareth.

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