By Terrie Yule
Growing up, when it came to parenting in our home, roles were very well defined and to a large degree they were based on gender.
Fast forward 40 years and there has been an observable shift in roles and parenting but the one constant remains the same: kids need to feel supported, loved and listened to and they benefit from good modelling.
September is often a time when we celebrate fathers and special father figures and so let us consider the ultimate model for fathers in our Church – St Joseph, spouse of Mary and foster father of Jesus.
“We know that Joseph was a great father because of the type of man Jesus grew to be.”
St Joseph remains a wonderful model of a father. He loved his wife Mary and he loved Jesus who he raised as his own. That can’t have been easy. Joseph and Mary are betrothed. The whole village knew they would marry and Mary conceived a child that was not Joseph’s.
Joseph was asked to accept that this was God’s will and he did so.
Joseph was asked to raise Jesus as his own and he did so.
We know that Joseph was a great father because of the type of man Jesus grew to be. Jesus grew to be a mirror of the model of a man that Joseph was in all things.
But it would not have been all smooth sailing.
In Luke 2:49 we read of a time when Jesus is missing for 3 days. His parents couldn’t place him. Imagine the fear of not knowing where your child was? Perhaps you can identify with this feeling? When Joseph and Mary track Jesus down to the Temple and Jesus asks, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?”
It’s a bit of a slap in the face for any parent. They were beside themselves with fear – and Jesus was holding court doing what he is destined to do. It was a reminder to Joseph and Mary.
In some way, we are all foster parents. Many of us are gifted with a child to raise through birth. A child that God has gifted to us. A child that we will love as our own. Provide for as our own. Teach and model how to live good lives that value the dignity of others. Lives that challenge us to step up when others can’t and to use our gifts and talents for the good of all.
“… may St Joseph’s model of love and protection, acceptance and providence, encourage and strengthen you in your vocation today and every day.”
For some, we will raise other people’s birth children. We will love them as our own. Care for and provide for them as our own. We will worry about them and things we will never understand. It matters not how they came into the world, but that they came to us. That they were gifted to us by God, is what matters. What we do with this gift of parenting matters immensely.
Whether as fathers, grandfathers, uncles, foster parents, step-parents, kin parents or significant adults who are rearing and providing for children, may St Joseph’s model of love and protection, acceptance and providence, encourage and strengthen you in your vocation today and every day.
In December 2020, Pope Francis shared with the world his Apostolic Letter ‘Patris Corde’ (with a father’s heart) on what was the 150th Anniversary of St Joseph as a Patron of the Universal Church.
Here we learn a great deal about St Joseph and the love of a man for his wife and son. To gain a little more insight into St Joseph why not read this beautiful letter of St Joseph.
Terrie Yule is the Family Educator at St Luke’s Primary School in Revesby.