Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Man to Be Trusted

This is a great article about St. Joseph. St. Joseph is one of my most beloved Saints and reading this has deepened my devotion even more. : )

St. Joseph, pray for us to have trust, love and faith like yours.
Robert Greving
March 14, 2008

George McDonald, the 19th century preacher who so influenced C. S. Lewis, once said, "It is a greater compliment to be trusted than to be loved." We must love everybody, but we do not and should not trust everybody, at least not to the same degree. Trust is earned. The more valuable the commission, the greater the trust. The greater the trust, the greater the merit of the one having been entrusted. And the greater the merit of the one being entrusted, the greater his glory upon fulfillment of that trust.

God, too, loves everyone, and, in a certain sense, trusts everyone. By the very act of creating a person, God says, "You have work to do and I trust you. I will be there to help, and I trust you to cooperate." We also know that we fail in that trust every day, and that is why we look to St. Joseph.

God trusted St. Joseph more than any other man. Think about it. With whom would you trust your spouse? Your only son? Your most beloved daughter? Who would you trust to defend them, provide for them, lead them in prayer? God trusted Joseph.

I think we have the impression that Joseph sort of stood off to the side all the time, hand over his heart in wonder, while Mary and Jesus were perpetually gazing into each other's eyes. Yet, in very real terms, Joseph was the man Jesus thought of when he said, "Father." Joseph taught Jesus — he taught our Lord — to pray, to work, to help around the home.

It should come as no surprise that God trusted a carpenter, a man accustomed to hard work and sweat; one whose livelihood depended upon a combination of judgment, imagination, and technical skill, otherwise known as plain good work. He was one for whom a job was not done until it was done. (Do you know any good carpenter who leaves his work half-done, or "almost done"?) The actual Latin and Greek words for Joseph's occupation (faber and tekton respectively) literally mean a "maker," a "doer." Joseph was by nature and occupation a man who got things done. In the gospels, the angel doesn't wait for an answer from Joseph. He assumes Joseph will do what he is asked. And he does. Without a word. Can God say that about us?

He was by necessity a man of few words. That there is no recorded word of his is a fact often noted and rarely imitated. To be truly silent is to listen. Would you — could you — trust someone who didn't listen? Besides, you don't get work done when you're talking. (Do you know any good carpenter who talks a lot?) To listen we must be silent. It is also a fact that the Church has made this silent man the patron saint of workers and contemplatives. Work and prayer must be together. It is a good rule of thumb that the amount of work being done is proportional to the amount of silence. That alone may explain the sad state of our society.

Can we — can I be — trusted? Do I do what I am supposed to do? Do I do my work, today, now? Am I responsible with money? Can I keep a confidence?

Am I punctual? Do I always tell the truth, without exaggeration or self-justification? Can I be silent?

Finally, Joseph was of one heart and mind with Mary. They were husband and wife. They prayed together. They discussed matters and he listened to her. She who was the vessel of the Holy Spirit was his confidante as he made the hundred and one decisions a man makes each day about his family, his work, and his life. He, whom God trusted, trusted Mary.

Much more could be written and much more must be contemplated about this man. But as God trusts us with our tasks — large or small though they may be — let us go to Joseph. We can't go wrong listening to and obeying the man Jesus and Mary listened to and obeyed.

Robert Greving is a husband and teacher from Germantown, Maryland.