Mary was not the only one shocked by a visit from an angel. It obviously came as a shock to Joseph!

How and when did Mary share the news?  At what point did the angel tell Joseph, “Do not be afraid!” Matthew 1:18

We really don’t know many details beyond a few brief hints in scripture.

In this Vincentian Mindwalk I explore some questions I would like to ask Joseph about being a father to Jesus.

Are fathers born or made?

Before I get to those questions about Joseph, I ask, “Are fathers born or made.”

Here is one woman’s response

She writes …

I know how much pressure there is on you, I see the worry in your eyes sometimes when things go wrong.

I feel the weight of this mental load you carry being the breadwinner of our household.

I know it can be draining working all day and coming home only to do more. Yet with all this, I see the endless love in your eyes for our little family.

She concludes her litany of what she knows with

Fathers are not born, fathers are made.
Through their experiences.
Through their dedication.
Through their love.
A man that has love to give is a man worth it all.

Joseph grew in wisdom, age, and grace

Back to Joseph… If Jesus grew in wisdom, age, and grace, I think we can say the same about Joseph.

He would have experienced variations of the things most fathers do.

So, I ask…

  • What did Joseph feel when he first heard Jesus call him Daddy?
  • What was it like to play with Jesus?
  • What did it feel like teaching Jesus carpentry?
  • What did Joseph feel when he realized Jesus was not with Mary in the caravan?
  • Were his emotions mixed when he found Jesus teaching in the temple?
  • How much did he appreciate Jesus was “destined for the rise and fall of many” and how that might affect him?”
  • Did he ponder all these things in his heart as Mary did?
  • And, the really big question… How did being the foster father of Jesus change him?

I suspect many fathers, but also many mothers and even adult children, will recognize parallels with their own life experiences.

Sitting with such questions ourselves

But I also ask… Who are the people we feel responsible for? Not all of us are parents. But, in one way or another, we are responsible for others.

  • What was your feeling when you realized you had a special relationship with your sisters and brothers?
  • How did you learn to become sisters and brothers?
  • Are you now responsible for your parents as they age?
  • How did you learn to parent them?
  • Are there any beyond your immediate family who you are responsible for?
  • Have you discovered a wider sense of responsibility for others?

Taking responsibility further

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” In the Garden of Paradise, God asked Cain, “Where is your brother?” His response made clear Cain neither saw nor accepted responsibility for his brother.

Today, we make political decisions. Do we recognize any responsibility for our sisters and brothers?

When Jesus taught us to pray “OUR Father,” did he really mean just “My Father?” If he really meant OUR father, do we vote as if our sisters and brothers are not our responsibility?

Do we know where our brothers and sisters are… especially those who are seriously wounded and hurting much more than we are?

Can we grow in wisdom and age and grace?

Click below for an early audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk