Greetings my brothers and sisters,
On the third Sunday of this month we will celebrate Father’s Day and give thanks for the gift of our
fathers and all that they are and do for us. It might seem at times that our culture and society has given
less value to the role of fathers, even at times deeming them unnecessary, or even harmful, to the full
growth of children. This, of course, is not the case and we have St. Joseph to prove it!
Now, some of you might be asking, “How does St. Joseph prove that fathers are necessary and
important for the growth of our children?” I am glad you asked! We all know that St. Joseph was not
involved in the conception of Jesus, the Son of God become man. The Gospel is quite clear about this.
Jesus is conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit: The Holy
Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you (Lk 1:35). So, Joseph is
not father of Jesus by natural generation. How then can he be seen as patron of fathers and model of
fatherhood? This is seen by God’s decision in the Gospel of Matthew, right after Joseph decides to
separate himself from Mary. Through the angel is a dream, God tells Joseph: Joseph, son of David, do not
be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been
conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from
their sins (Mt. 1:20-21). God wants Joseph to name the child Jesus, and this was the duty of the father.
Therefore, God is telling Joseph he wants him to be father to his Son. An awesome responsibility, and
also a great demonstration of the importance and necessity for children to have a father…even Jesus,
the Son of God, needed to have one!
Also, of importance to notice is that Joseph has to be told by God that he is to continue as husband to
Mary and to be father to the child. Joseph does not presume that he is to do this. After the intervention
of God in the life of his wife Mary, Joseph is not sure what he is to do. He had been certain enough that
his vocation was to be husband to Mary but now he was not so certain. Almost for sure, he does not
want to leave Mary and yet he cannot presume to continue with her as husband since God has clearly
chosen her for a very special role. He certainly had some rights are regards Mary, as her lawful husband
though not yet living together, but these rights had been granted to him by God in the first place. If now
God was deciding to take back those rights, well how could Joseph object? If God was asking him to
follow another call, then he would do that.
As for the child conceived in Mary’s womb, Joseph knew he had not claim to the child and certainly no
right to be his father. The child had been conceived in Mary by the power of God and so it was up to
God to decide how to care for the child. Joseph, in his humility, decides to separate from Mary and the
mystery that God was bringing about since he has not been told he had a role in this mystery. Once it
becomes clear that he is to continue in his vocation as husband to Mary and the he is also to be father to
the child, he does immediately as he is asked to do by God. He takes Mary into his home and he names
the child Jesus, assuming his role as father to him.
We have in the actions of St. Joseph a model for all fathers to follow. All fathers must realize that they
have no right to their children, that children are God’s gifts and belong first of all to God. Also, husbands
must realize that the rights and duties that they have toward their wives are given by God and must be
exercised according to God’s will and not their human whims. Fatherhood is a gift from God and so must
be treasured as such and exercised under the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit of God. If all
fathers were to see and understand their role in this light, then our society and culture would be hard
pressed to continue to see fathers as unnecessary. The vocation to fatherhood is a precious and
necessary gift of God to the world. May all who are called to it realize this and live it fully as such.
St. Joseph, Patron of Fathers, pray for us
Fr. Brian, OSJ