Posts Tagged ‘blowing noses’

St JosephI wipe noses for a living.

Let me expand on that: My job includes direct care for people with various disabilities, some of which entail the inability to move one’s extremities (hence the need to wipe people’s noses for them when necessary).  I have jokingly said that I feel ready to be a dad after handling this and similar duties at work.

Which brings me to St. Joseph, the guardian and “acting father” of the Word incarnate.  He is in many ways an archetypal father figure, as well as a model of true manliness.

First of all, let me test your Bible knowledge.  Take a minute and see if you can recall St. Joseph’s most famous words, as quoted in the Bible.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Can’t think of anything?  Not surprising — St. Joseph never says one word in any of the Gospels.

The Scriptural witness to St. Joseph’s silence speaks to us of his fatherly humility before the great Mystery entrusted to his care.  Think about it: He was the only sinner in a home that he shared with the God-Man Jesus Christ and the Immaculate Virgin Mary.  And yet, in the designs of Divine Providence, he was given charge of the Holy Family.  His was the responsibility to provide for the Holy Family’s material needs, to lead them in the observance of the Law, to teach the Child Jesus everything he would need to know as a man of Israel, etc.

Saint_Joseph_with_the_Infant_Jesus_by_Guido_Reni,_c_1635Given the paucity of material regarding this great man in the Scriptures, we cannot say very much about him for sure.  But a very prominent and likely theory is that he was an older man, one who had lived a relatively long time and reached a particular level of righteousness (there was a name for such men in ancient Israel, but it escapes me).  It was for this reason that he could take the young virgin Mary (who was very likely a consecrated virgin…but that is the subject of a whole other post) as his wife.  Unlike most of us, he had been purified by God to such an extent that he could admire a woman’s beauty without feeling any lust, could have charge over a very young woman and her child without wanting to exercise authoritarian dominance over them, etc.

I would say that if the Blesséd Virgin Mary shows forth her Queenship in her role as the Mother of Jesus, St. Joseph shows us true kingship in his role of fatherhood.  Indeed, parenthood is the most sublime, significant, and impacting form of leadership and authority in human life.  All other authority derives from, rests on, and is in a certain sense ordered toward that.

I am reminded of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Return of the King,” in which the coming of Aragorn is foretold in this way:

The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known (V.viii).

And that brings me back to my nose-wiping reference.  I truly hope this is not in any way sacrilegious — if it is, someone please let me know, and it will be promptly removed.  But given that Jesus Christ was like us in all things but sin, I cannot help but wonder if, as a child, He would have needed his nose wiped from time to time.  True, it is more common (and, I would say, more natural) for the mother to be the one handling the blowing of noses, the bandaging of wounds, the kissing of bruises, the assuaging of natural human woes, etc.  But surely, attending to the Child Jesus in this way must not have been foreign to St. Joseph, nor do I think it is foreign to any dad reading this right now.


Finally, all leadership and authority has its ultimate source and verification in God, Who relates to us as a Father (not because He is male, since God has no gender…but Fatherhood is the most fitting way to describe His relation to us in His transcendence).  So the fatherly form of parenthood and its role in Jesus’ earthly life should not be ignored.  Each and every father should approach his family in the spirit of St. Joseph — that is, in humility before the sublime gifts that God has entrusted to him…the gifts that are nothing less than immortal souls entrusted to his providence, protection, and leadership.

First and foremost, he has to realize this: It is not about him.  True fatherhood consists in the total gift of oneself, loving one’s wife as Christ loves His Church and loving his children as God the Father — Who holds back nothing of Himself, even to the sacrifice of His own Son (John 3:16) — loves His children.  And a father with true humility of this sort will not be afraid to get into the mess of dirty diapers, runny noses, and other such business.

St. Joseph, patron of nose-blowing men, pray for us!

Images from Wikipedia

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