Today the Church remembers Joseph, “guardian” of Jesus. Actually guardian is not my favorite word. For all intents and purposes, Joseph was Jesus’ dad, wasn’t he? He loved Jesus’ mother Mary, taught Jesus a trade (probably), took the family up to Jerusalem for the religious festivals, and if the dream in Matthew counts for anything (when the angel told Joseph not to cancel the marriage with Mary in spite of the pregnancy), then Joseph knew how to listen and obey God. I think that as a dad Joseph also must have guarded, protected, encouraged, and supported the call of God in Jesus’ life. Rather than make Jesus in his own parental image, I think Joseph gave Jesus the space and encouragement to become what God was preparing this boy to be. That’s a good model for us.

Martin Luther talks about how we are “little Christs” to our neighbor. What if we stretch his metaphor and think of ourselves also as “little Josephs”? That would mean that we honor, respect, guide and encourage the presence of the living Christ in each of our brothers and sisters, that we would support them as they try to follow God’s call in their lives, that we would give them the space to ask their questions, voice their doubts and share their struggles. This kind of “guardian” doesn’t try to control and make a person in a specific mold, but looks for the gifts that God has placed in that person and helps them grow. Has anyone been a “Joseph” for you? Are you actively a “Joseph” for someone?