“† The Eight Beatitudes and Hymn to Love are all my teaching. I have given you an example of life according to these values and principles. Ask and desire so that I let you know and love these most beautiful values of human life in the world. This is so that I guide you in life through that which will benefit you most.” (Jesus to Alicja Lenczewska, Testimony, 788)
The Most Perfect Model to Follow
The Second Vatican Council reminded us all that each of one of us has been called to holiness: “Therefore, all the faithful of Christ are invited to strive for the holiness and perfection of their own proper state” (Lumen gentium, 42).
For most people, the road to holiness is coincident with family life. However, the average person pursuing such a calling may think that holiness is meant for the chosen few, given to us as role models so that we improve our conduct. We do not believe that holiness is within our reach. For this reason, God left us the most perfect model to follow: the Holy Family made up of three persons: Jesus, the Son of God; Mary, the Immaculate; and St. Joseph.
Let us have a look at how St. Joseph proceeded to holiness – our model of father and husband. For this purpose, it is best to apply Jesus’ criteria that set an agenda for holiness for everyone: the Eight Beatitudes. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Poverty, according to St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus, consisted in being small, acknowledging one’s nothingness and expecting everything from God. St. Joseph’s attitude continued to be like that throughout his life. We know this from the Gospel according to Matthew, where we read that when he observed that his bride-tobe, Mary, was expecting a baby, he found himself in a very difficult situation. He was helpless and must have called for help and light to God from the depth of his poverty. Seeking God’s will, “Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” (Matthew 1:19) It was like that with everything: in his powerlessness, St. Joseph always stretched his hands towards God and God always gave him light and grace to perform faithfully his mission. Next, we see Joseph and the pregnant Mary during an undoubtedly arduous journey to Bethlehem, where their Child was born. We can presume that Joseph was present at the birth. Here, too, he was completely helpless. What could Joseph feel holding God’s Infant in his arms, for whom he could not even choose a name – the customary privilege of a father – because an angel announced it already at the Annunciation? In our families, too, we often find ourselves helpless. It is hard to accept with humility the need to ask God for mercy each time we address him. The family, however, is a great school of prayer and humility, in particular when the whole family, including children, is involved. It is never too early – even when our children do not speak yet, we can still stretch our hands with them, showing in this way that we depend on God for everything. Besides, children, through their helplessness and absolute dependence on their mother and father, can bring out from us and show to the world what are the most beautiful and noble qualities in us parents.