Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten meditation for today talks about how the ego gets in the way of becoming holier. If you ever encounter a person who has this “I’m holier than thou!” vibe, they’re doing it wrong!
A wonderful example of someone who lived a wonderful holy, humble life is St. Joseph whose feast day is today.
My friends Rachel and Kateri made this wonderful video about St. Joseph that goes beyond the images we usually associate with the foster father of Jesus.
The usual assumption about St. Joseph was that he was a widower, possibly old enough to be Mary’s father, and died sometime between Jesus’s preteen years and full adulthood, which could be supported by the fact that he doesn’t appear in the Gospels when Jesus officially began his ministry or at the Cross at Jesus’s death. Besides that, Catholics believe that Mary stayed a virgin after she was married. That could only happen if she was married to someone who wasn’t sexually interested in her, right?
But what if he wasn’t? What if Joseph was around the same age as Mary? After all, the child Jesus would need a role model, an example of the man he would eventually become. It would be hard to picture a child thinking of becoming a grown man if the prominent example is past his prime. Archbishop Fulton Sheen instead has his own theory: That Joseph was a young man, prime marriage material, and able to provide a living for Mary and Jesus.
But what would explain Joseph’s death? The fact that back then, men tended to have shorter life spans than women. Still applies to today, but back then the life expectancy gap was even more extreme.
Point is this: Picture Mary as a teenager (12-14), since that was how old she could’ve been to marry at that time. And picture Joseph as somewhere close to that (say 13-16). And picture ALL of the things you heard about the things leading to Jesus’s birth and picture yourself as a teenager or a teenager in your life. Could you do the same things Joseph and Mary did in those circumstances? Probably not.
If Joseph and Mary were around today, their relationship status would be: “Joseph and Mary are in a relationship and it’s complicated” because according to the Catholic church, Mary was conceived without sin and they will raise God made flesh. So yeah, complicated relationship, but they made it work because they put God’s needs before their own. Mary and Joseph are the Gospel’s OTP! (That means one true pairing!)
Joseph as a young man provides a great testament to the fact that men can in fact be in control of their hormones. Read about how Joseph reacted to everything that happened to Mary and all the things God asked him to do. Notice that he doesn’t say a single word in the New Testament, but instead listens and obeys God. If men and women put God first and treat each other with the dignity and respect that God created us with, there would be a lot less conflict between the genders.