Over the last several FOSJ meetings we have discussed the four ways that Abraham’s and Joseph’s faith was tested: 1) by faith they were directed to go to a place though they did not know the way 2) by faith they lived as exiles in a foreign land 3) by faith they received their wives and the offspring they bore and 4) by faith they prepared and offered their children in sacrifice. Today we will focus on the third area of obedience – receptivity to ones’s wife and her offspring. Abraham and Joseph were both greatly tested by means of their relationship to their wives, and often, we fathers, we men are attacked in our relationships not only, our wives, but also to woman in general.
Joseph was a Tekton, a craftsman, a master builder. What was Joseph’s greatest work, his greatest building accomplishment? Joseph built his family into a domestic church – the first domestic church – the prototype of all domestic churches. Joseph was the “wise and faithful steward who was placed over his household to give his family bread in due season.” (See Luke 12) Joseph was the savior of the Savior, the teacher of the Teacher, the master of the Master, the one who gave bread to the Bread of Life – Bread that feeds this spiritually starving world. If St. Joseph had not saved Jesus from Herod we would not have a Savior or salvation. If Joseph had not fed the Bread of Life, we would not have the Bread that gives eternal life to each of us. Joseph’s fatherhood mattered.
Do you think that Joseph’s fatherhood was important to God the Father? When Joseph discovered that the Blessed Virgin Mary was pregnant without his cooperation he initially fled from his vocational call to greatness. Yet God relentlessly pursued Joseph, hunting him down, calling him to return to his post, to return to his position of father. God desired that Joseph be a father to the Father’s Son. This is the paradigm for all fathers. God desired Joseph to father His Son, Jesus Christ, and He desires each of us to father his children in Christ. God has chosen you, desires you and even, in a certain sense, needs you to be a great father. Why? God needs you to father because your children need the Father.
You, as a father are the link between heaven and earth, between God and His children. You are the visible face of the invisible Father, the voice of the Father you children cannot hear, the touch of the Father your children cannot feel. God needs you to father because your children need the Father. Satan, however, tempts us, like he tempted Joseph, to flee from our post, from receiving our wives, and being deliberately dedicated to them. He does this in many ways. This is one of the key areas where Satan attacks: the relationship between a husband and wife. Why? Because the evil one knows that the best gift we as fathers can give to our children is a holy, faithful marriage. Strong adults commonly begin as strong children, and strong children come from strong marriages. In other words, if we as fathers want to build our families into domestic churches wherein the risen Christ and His power dwells, we need to re-dedicate ourselves to loving and honoring women rightly—particularly our own wives.
The united front between a husband and wife is the key component to raising children to become virtuous, self-giving, honorable individuals. If we desire to have holy families—for our families to be united as one— we should strive to become one with our wives. Qualifier: even if you are not married, or are divorced, learning how to love woman rightly is the path to true manhood and authentic fatherhood. There are three fundamental aspects of being a good husband—a true man—that are considered foundational: 1) knowing the essence of man – what we are – what really constitutes being a real man 2) Following Christ’s example. Jesus says, “Learn from Me.” We can learn from Christ what it means to be a great husband. 3) Maintaining purity of heart, fighting the tenacious battle to overcome lust.
The united front between a husband and wife is the key component to raising children to become virtuous, self-giving, and full of honor St. Joseph’s first-step was to receive the Woman, the great Mother. Joseph’s first step was to overcome the temptation to abandon Mary. This is important: despite his struggles, the obstacles and trials related to Mary, Joseph overcame them to remain by Mary’s side and become that united front, that union of souls that participated in raising Jesus. Most men struggle at some level, from time to time, in their relationship with their wives—at least that what I have heard. Over the next few meetings, we will set our minds and hearts to discovering what it really means to be a man, what Christ has to teach us about how to love women and how to defeat the boy inside and become a true man.