Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Why I Didn't Put Our Christmas Lights Out This Year

After many, many years and a few moves, our St. Joseph light needed to retire.
In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium (the Montessori space devoted to helping children fall in love with God) the children learn about when Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the Temple, where they meet Simeon and Anna.   Normally I display lit figures of the Holy Family at this time of year, but this year was different..

I didn't put our nativity scene out on the front lawn this year because St. Joseph was just too cracked.  Over the years the plastic has become brittle, so he's missing the top of his head (which we covered last year with a Santa hat) and he's missing his right hand, which held a lantern.  When it rains the light bulb shorts out, so it's time to retire this St. Joseph figure.
I thought about still setting out the Mary, baby Jesus and the ox part of our creche, but it didn't seem right.  Without St. Joseph, who would have protected Mary and the unborn baby in her womb?  Without St. Joseph, who would have taken them to Eqypt to flee Herod's soldiers?  Without St. Joseph, how would Jesus learn a living in the carpenter's shop?  Without St. Joseph who would have introduced Jesus to the scriptures, to His father's house?
All of these thoughts have been swirling in my mind as I have watched fathers this Advent:  as I watched young dads bounce boisterous babies during Mass; as I watched a father lead his two children to give up their seats to an elderly lady and her escort at the Christmas Vigil tonight; as I watched fathers here on vacation in Florida play catch on the beach; as I met some fathers (and noticed the absence of some) at a luncheon recently held for moms and their babies who had considered--and then rejected--abortion.
There are so many ways the "St. Joseph" in our lives watch out for us.  He checks the tires before a long car trip.  He fills out the paperwork so the new baby is insured.  He gets the kids out of Mom's hair long enough for her to catch her breath, or grab a nap.  He's more than the helpful neighbor or the favorite uncle--he's put his life on the line, he's committed his future to his bride and child.  He puts their welfare and well-being before his own. 
What a wonderful model of a man who was willing to die to self, who could hear the voice of God and obey, who was provider and protector!  Pope Francis recently said at his Angelus address that the Gospel “shows us St. Joseph’s greatness of soul. Joseph was a man who always listened to the voice of God, was deeply sensitive to his secret will -- a man attentive to the messages that came from the heart and from above.”

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