steadfast and showing up

BY EILEEN MARKEY | March 19, 2021
Today’s Readings

Today’s readings start mighty and end muffled. We begin with God speaking to a king, promising him permanent progeny and we end with a Nazarene worker confused about his pregnant fiancée. 

David is like a mythological hero, vast in his highs and lows, mighty and dramatic. I think of Joseph as the patron saint of the rest of us, the non-heroes. He’s not made for the grand stage—it’s like he’s stumbled into someone else’s story. But Joseph seems to understand what someone like David never can: it’s not all about you. Instead of making himself the center, no-drama-Joseph simply does his part even though he can’t have understood quite why he was here. He’s stalwart. It’s an old-fashioned but vital quality, necessary in anyone actually interested in a movement for justice. I can picture Joseph stuffing envelopes or waiting on line to get the sound permit for the protest—not demanding to be the headline speaker. 

steadfast and showing up

If we’re working for justice we might well be immersed in someone else’s story. The job then is to show up, to be reliable—even when the scope of the struggle might be beyond our grasp. My fiancée is pregnant with the long-awaited Messiah? My kid is discoursing with the rabbis? I hear Joseph’s confusion—and my own feelings of being out of my depth. Well, let me do right by them.

The lovely irony is that in a story—like much ancient literature— obsessed with bloodline and prophesy—it is through stalwart, regular Joe that the royal line of David is passed to Jesus. The story needs regular guy Joseph in order to connect mighty David to this Jesus who subverts hierarchies. It needs us too—in over our heads, steadfast and showing up to do our bit.

For Reflection:

  • When do you feel out of your depth and in over your head, like Joseph did? 
  • How are you called to show up for the work of justice anyway? 

6 replies
  1. Avatar
    Mary Ellen says:

    Love your thoughts, but one is difficult to comprehend: if Joseph is not Jesus’ biological father, then he does not contribute the Davidian bloodline. We know so little of Miriam, but perhaps she was also descended from David?

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  2. Avatar
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    Joseph seems like the ordinary guy we meet at social gatherings, baseball games and other outings we used to have. He is the guy we would talk to when everyone rushed to speak to the speaker. He is the one that helped clean up the auditorium or the back of the Church; he was the one that helped someone to their car; he was the one that lingered to talk to someone that was lingering hoping to talk to someone; he was the observer of people’s needs and responded to them. So today, we ask this ordinary man to assist us this day in bringing that ordinariness to others, to respond to their needs, to encourage them in their gift of themselves to others.
    His lineage seems to be offputting. Who is this guy who came from Bethlehem and ended up in the small town of Nazareth? What did he teach his son? How did they help others? What did he and Mary think about Jesus’ time in the temple? Why did Joseph take him home when he had his father’s work to do? Many of these questions we will ask St. Joseph when we meet him in heaven.

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  3. Avatar
    Liz McCloskey says:

    Eileen,

    yes it is a cliche but I laughed and I cried when reading your reflection. spot on! thank you for sharing this perspective on St. Joseph, the regular Joe : )

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    valerie Ramos says:

    Loved this reflection! A real encouragement and reminder that the ordinary and difficult tasks of life, done in obedience, can change the whole world!

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Elaine says:

    “Yup,” your life is not about you. The truly wise and happy know and live this out. Don’t you just love and appreciate someone who sets the example of doing the upright thing and following through with it without drawing attention to themselves—-because………….”your life is not about you?

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  6. Avatar
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Lovely thoughts. Blessed with solid virtues, Saint Joseph is an inspiration. Jesus, Mary and Joseph – Pray for us.

    Reply

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