Free to serve

At the Last Supper, Jesus gives us the example of a servant by washing the feet of His  Apostles and telling them that they should follow the example and seek to serve others (John 13:12-16). Yet a bit later He remarks, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15) So, are we servants or not?

The word serve in the dictionary has many meanings. (38 nuanced definitions depending upon how it is used!) Some definitions that fit the purpose for my reflection include: to answer the needs of, to attend, to comply with the demands of, and to be of use. In the etymology of the word, it may be traced back to Latin, “to perform duties for (a master) in the capacity of a slave, act in subservience, to be at the service of.”  However, it is possible that the original sense was “watcher (of flocks), or guardian,” per Merriam-Webster. It should be of no surprise that the Good Shepherd would ask us to follow in His footsteps and serve, or watch over/guard others. Yet there seems to be a fine line between servant and slave. 

Baptism has freed us from original sin, and that means we have freedom of choice. Does that choice mean we can choose anything we want? Yes AND no! The “yes” answer is conditional in that we need to accept the responsibility and the consequences of our choices. The “no” answer is based on our understanding that we are just one tiny part of a bigger world (of nature, community, history, etc.) and our choices have impacts that can have a ripple effect that we may never realize. Our current self-indulgent culture has a great distaste for serving, unless it is in favor of the individual being served. Freedom and service seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum; an either/or decision. Yet God calls us to both. We can be servants to others without losing our freedom. 

When we freely choose to serve another, to do a task at the request of another, we live out the example that Jesus gave His Apostles. We become not less of ourselves, but more fully ourselves by relating to that person and to Jesus in the same action. These experiences shape and develop us, opening us up to doing God’s will. If being of service to others means I am a slave, then by all means let me be a slave of Jesus — for He purchased me with His own Body and Blood on the cross. But Jesus has called us His friends, for we do not blindly take commands. Rather with the Love that is God, we perform acts of service. First, to acknowledge the love we have for each person made in the image and likeness of God; second, as an expression of praise and worship to God for bestowing his Love on us; and, third as an acceptance of the Love God gives to us.  

If we seek to be truly free, we should seek to serve God and do His will. 

Carrying your cross

How many crosses do you carry? And I am not  talking about the jewelry you wear, the rosary in your pocket, or possibly the tattoo on your body. I mean the spiritual, sacrificial hardships that are uniquely yours to bear. Is there more than one? Or does it change as your spirituality grows?

Luke’s gospel (9:23) records Jesus indicating the call of discipleship is for us to deny ourselves,  to take up our cross daily, and follow Him. While many, especially in our modern culture of “me,” would think that the cross Catholics are called to carry is the denial of putting ourselves first, in reality the crosses we are meant to carry can many times be categorized as a weakness towards sin. Even St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians acknowledges the thorn of the flesh he was given. (2 Cor 12:7). For some of us it may be an addictive pattern, for others it may gossip or judging others. Although we may share the same inclinations with another, how we handle ourselves and address our weakness is unique to each individual.

Life is ever changing. If we focus on one particular area in our life to improve, it often seems that we falter in other multiple areas. Then as we shift our focal point to those other problem areas, the original element of focus ends up back in the same way prior to trying to fix it. Some may call it an endless battle and eventually give up. Yet Jesus didn’t indicate that we only needed to pick up one cross (or needed to pick it up once) but rather daily; that thought alone can be overwhelming. When we notice ourselves falling back into a pattern of sinful behavior, it is a golden opportunity to lean on Jesus and also the saints and angels for assistance. Just like Simon the Cyrenian helped Jesus carry His cross, Jesus does not abandon us to our own devices unless we specifically push Him away. Some days the weight of our cross can feel like it’s about to crush us,  on other days it could simply be an annoying inconvenience. Our journey with our crosses span the length of our lives and it’s how we embrace certain moments of spiritual exercise overall that will determine our success.

Not all crosses we bear are a direct reflection of our actions. Illness, separation, or death can also be burdens that challenge our spiritual journey. Yet these, too, are temporary and do not define our spiritual lives. They can ultimately bring us closer to God and others as we navigate our way through these times. 

It can be easy to look at others and be thankful that we don’t have the crosses they bear. Comparing our crosses to theirs may not only minimize the severity of ours in our minds, but can also minimize the impact and effect of addressing the weaknesses we do have. But venial sins can stack up quickly. Minimizing the impact of our actions can lead us dangerously into the sin of pride, as evidenced by the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). We also need to be cautious not to “decorate” our crosses just so that others can see what we are dealing with. 

We can’t choose which cross we want to pick up, but we are asked to acknowledge our cross (or crosses) and daily pick them (all) up with the Lord’s assistance. Carrying this burden sensitizes us to have compassion for others. Yet we don’t just pick it up and hold it; we carry it and follow Jesus. He has shown us that even when we fall, we need to rise up again and continue in the path He has made with His cross – all the way through to the resurrection. 

Blest to be poor in spirit

The first Beatitude: “Blest are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3) is one that I found troublesome to understand. But when I heard Bishop Barron explain the ‘poor in spirit’ as those who are not addicted to good feelings, it made much more sense. Our society seems to expect us to always be happy and if we’re not, we feel that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

I had several days recently that were rather trying; nothing horrible, I was just perceiving everything as requiring a Herculean effort. Why did even the simplest of tasks seem so difficult? I kept praying and asking for help, yet it seemed as if I was moving through semi-solidified gelatin. With the expectation of needing to put on a good face, or be required to answer probing questions of what’s wrong, my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual energies were depleted by the end of the day. Instead of having a good night’s sleep, my sleep pattern was interrupted, resulting in the next day my waking up tired or cranky, or both. I started to think, “What’s wrong with me? Why is this happening?” The expectations I had for myself were not being fulfilled, and I felt like I was doing everything wrong. I was still praying, yet the words seemed hollow.

While I felt like I needed to put it in God’s hands, what exactly was I putting in His hands? What kind of intercessory prayer should I be praying? Because I felt like I was making poor choices, how could I ask God to fix something that I was responsible for? That was not fair to God. But that is a very human way of looking at life. God wants everything: our good and our less than stellar selves. The days were a hard slog to get through, and it was very difficult not to dig myself further into darkness by casting poor judgements upon myself. Then while at Mass, poor in spirit kept coming into my head and I realized what I was going through was an exercise to strengthen me for when I’m not my happy, smiling self. 

Everyone has times when not for any particular reason, they’re just not happy. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong or needs to be changed, but rather to stay the course and take things slow. It may mean that you need to go half-speed, and that’s okay. Some chores may only be half-done or not completed at all, and that’s okay. You may feel that you are lazy and making bad decisions, and saying prayers without meaning them, but it’s important to keep trying and to continue to ask God for support. These types of days don’t last forever and they are helpful in strengthening our compassion for others. While you may not feel very blessed as you journey through those cloud-filled days, the sun is still shining on the other side of the clouds and eventually the clouds will break. No matter how far away God seems to us, He is always walking the way right beside us.

When we allow ourselves to experience a full range of feelings throughout our human lives, and allow God to guide us through each, our lives are truly blessed. We can appreciate the happiness and joy of life because we experience even the days that are a struggle. Our lives are not summed up into one day or the feelings we had on any particular day. And we may never fully know or understand what God can do as we allow Him and His will be done, as we muddle our way through those dismal days. But  perhaps when we look back on our lives at the end, we may see the exquisite masterpiece God has painted, using the shadowed-times to punctuate the times of vibrance and full-color. 

Mary at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Washington DC

Mystery of Mary

In the month of May, we celebrate all mothers, including Mary, the Mother of God. As I was praying the rosary recently, I began to ponder just on how much mystery surrounds her.

As Catholics, we believe Mary is truly 100% human, and only human. Mary does not have a divine nature like her Son. However, she has been blessed with the special gift of being immaculately conceived, which means the stain of original sin was not upon her from the moment of her conception. And while Mary always had free will like the rest of humanity, she didn’t suffer from concupiscence, the inclination to sin. We can all relate to what it’s like to fall and how easy that is! However, it is hard to imagine what it would be like if we did not have even the inclination to sin. How hard is it to resist temptations when you are in a state of pure grace? Mary’s humanity makes her one of us, yet her sinlessness is a mystery to us. Perhaps being blessed with such grace allowed her to lean on God when she was tempted, rather than her own judgment, so that she always sought His will and was able to resist any temptations. 

Mary’s ability to walk with Jesus through His Passion and Death leaves me in awe of her and her strength of character. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for her to see her Son so brutally treated. While the Gospels remain silent on any reaction she may have exhibited, it could only be her deep faith and relationship with God that allowed her to participate in the events as a witness. I’m sure there were copious tears, but did she wail in anguish? Did she want to take Jesus’ place on the cross, or did she know it had to be Him? Even if Jesus had to be condemned and die on the cross, did she wonder if He had to be scourged or crowned with thorns? 

From a logical perspective, it makes sense that if God preserved Mary from original sin from the time of her conception, then He would also save her body from corruption after her time on earth was completed. If original sin brings death to us until the end of time, then Mary, free from all sin, would be the first — and immediately so — to benefit from Jesus’ opening heaven by being assumed into heaven both body and soul together. More of a mystery for me is her crowning as Queen of Heaven and Earth. It’s quite amazing that a mere human being can bestow such a tremendous title. How can the human brain understand all of Earth at any one particular time, let alone Heaven and Earth through all eternity? Yet Mary continues to be our Mother, appearing countless times all over the globe and throughout the generations. Perhaps by the special grace of her immaculate conception and her continual reliance on God throughout her earthly life, she is able to be more human than what we think of when we use those words. Perhaps she is realizing now what we hope to realize at the end of time when our bodies are reunited with our souls and we live in the presence of God for all eternity. Maybe it’s our mortality and/or our persistent sinfulness that blocks our ability to plumb the true depths of the mystery of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth.

As May unfolds like a flower, let us offer prayers of thanksgiving and praise to God for granting as our spiritual mother, His most perfect creation. Let us pray to Mary, too, seeking her intercession to emulate her reliance on God no matter how difficult the circumstances she found herself in. And let us pray her psalter, the rosary, diving into the mysteries she shares with her Son, for the intentions of all those who have shown us motherly love. Happy Mother’s Day!

The fisherman and the sheep

In the long version of next Sunday’s gospel reading from John (21:1-19), Jesus asks Peter three questions and after each gives him a directive related to the care of the sheep. It makes me wonder, what does a fisherman know about tending sheep?

In our modern eyes, the directions Jesus gives to Peter about feeding the lambs and sheep and tending them is about the Church. After 2,000 years, that makes sense. But what did Peter think of it all? He’s not recorded asking what sheep or where they were located. Most emphasis, including in the reading itself, is focused on the question that Jesus asks: “Do you love me?” Peter is distressed that Jesus keeps asking him the same question over and over again. Peter has seen Jesus work many miracles, and miraculously rise from the dead. Peter has proclaimed Jesus as the long awaited Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed one. He’s observed Jesus responding to the Pharisees when they haven’t even muttered a word, reading their thoughts and hearts in His address. How can Jesus, who seems to know all, not know that Peter loves him? I can see how distressing this would be.

Jesus once told Peter he would make him a fisher of men, yet now it seems He is making Peter into a shepherd. What, or who, did Peter think Jesus was referring to when he gave him the instructions to feed and tend the lambs and the sheep? Did Peter think of the sheep as the other disciples? It can be easy for modern day readers of the scriptures to think that what is recorded is the only dialog that ever happened. Perhaps there were other conversations Jesus had with Peter that allowed him to understand the references Jesus made. While the whole concept of a new religion, a new Church, may not have been the detailed instructions Jesus provided, He may have indicated that Peter was to “tend” to those who wanted to follow the way that Jesus had taught and exemplified.

I think of a fisherman as one who entices with bait and then takes the result from the water with the intention of the fish being consumed. A shepherd is quite the opposite, he does not entice with bait, but rather leads the sheep into pastures where they can graze, keeping an eye out for the dangers of weather, predators, and strays. The Church and the popes throughout the centuries have been shepherding God’s people, leading us to a relationship with Jesus and encouraging us to live a life centered on Sacraments and the Beatitudes. The letters and encyclicals of the popes have warned us of potential dangers in society and advised the flock of how to live a Christ-centered life within the culture of their time. 

I’ve read that the three “do you love Me?” questions were meant to correct the three times Peter denied Jesus prior to the crucifixion. Yet after each question and answer, Jesus gives Peter an instruction. Perhaps Jesus asks Peter about the strength of his love for Him because it’s not enough to just say we love someone, but true love is demonstrated by action. Jesus giving Peter a command after asking about Peter’s love for Him are entwined; you can’t have one without the other. 

We, too, are called to show our love for God through our loving interactions with all  those we encounter: family, friends, and individuals whom we may not know but come into contact. We are called to feed the lambs and sheep of Jesus’ flock by sharing the love He has given us with others. Let us keep alert to the opportunities Jesus is asking us if we love Him in the challenging opportunities in our daily lives. 

Peter represents the Church

Happy Easter! While Jesus is the main focus of the Easter liturgies, I was surprised to notice how much Peter is mentioned. I have attended these liturgies for several decades, yet this year it was almost like a spotlight was on Peter and his participation in the events.

During the Gospel for Holy Thursday, I must admit that I was amused at Peter’s response to Jesus about washing his feet. It really sounded like something I would say, going from one extreme (of not being washed) to the other (of washing more than just the feet). I think it’s a very human trait to see things as “all or nothing.” Yet God goes beyond our human thinking to what really matters. Anyone who has visited Israel knows that even in today’s modern age with motorized transportation, our feet seem to be magnets for the dust of the area. Yet after a long, tiring day of travel, if one just washes their feet, one feels like a whole new person who can travel for another eight hours. In ancient times the task of washing another’s feet fell to the lowest class of people: the servants and slaves. Even after spending three years with Jesus, Peter still didn’t understand that Jesus was teaching by example: those who want to follow Jesus must become servants to others.

Peter’s declaration to never abandon Jesus is the next example of how Peter’s responses are very much like the humanity of the Church. From the top all the way down to the laity, the Church is made of imperfect people trying their best to have a relationship with God and do His will in their earthly life. Sometimes we do well, but more often than we care to admit, we stumble and fall. Peter does try to follow Jesus, even if it is under a guise of blending in with the crowd. Perhaps Peter had to go through this experience in order to be bold enough to proclaim Jesus after the resurrection. While it is unfortunate that Peter’s betrayal kept him from following Jesus to the crucifixion, he is the only other Apostle besides John that the Gospels indicate followed Jesus after his arrest. 

Peter’s response to the women’s strange story illustrates the bond he had with Jesus. How many of us, after denying knowing a friend who has been unjustly arrested and killed, would run to their tomb after hearing that the person has been raised from the dead? Wouldn’t we rather hide from that person? But Peter took action: he ran to the tomb. He may not have understood what he saw, but he did go in search of Jesus. Despite our imperfections and failings, this is what the Church is all about: to take action by seeking Jesus first, putting all our energies and effort into the search. We, like Peter, may not fully understand what when faced with our own versions of the burial cloths at the empty tomb, but we, like Peter, know things are different and will never be the same. We are changed by our relationship with Jesus.

Though we ask for more than we need and are likely to stumble and fall, if we continue to seek God, He will give us what we need, when we need it and is ready for us in His merciful love. Jesus continues to teach by example by illustrating who we are called to be through Peter’s representation during the most sacred liturgies of the year. 

Prove it

During the reading of Luke’s Passion Gospel on Sunday, I read Herod’s part with new eyes. “Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.” (Lk 23:8) I wonder how much “Herod” we each have within us?

Herod was glad to see Jesus? That seems rather odd. In the context of Pilate sending Jesus to Herod to make a decision about Jesus’ life, Herod’s reaction seems more cartoonish in nature. My mind conjures up a grown man bouncing up and down on his throne and clapping his hands in delight at the potential of seeing some wonderful event before his eyes. Yet, this should exactly be our response to Jesus; with joy and gladness, we welcome His presence into our daily life. Our reaction, however, should not be conditional on anything Jesus does for us, but rather the sheer act of Jesus being God should alone account for the celebratory nature in the response. For some, welcoming Jesus joyfully is easy to do when things are going well. For others, even when there are abundant blessings, welcoming the Divine with gladness seems not to be a natural reaction, but a difficult choice requiring much effort. 

Herod had been waiting to see Jesus for a long time. Why wait? Why didn’t King Herod send his men to bring Jesus before him? If Herod really wanted to see Jesus, he didn’t have to wait on the obscure chance that Pilate would send Jesus his way to decide His fate. Herod could have created the opportunity to meet Jesus if he really wanted to see him. Perhaps all the stories he heard about Jesus may have been too much for Herod to believe, and because of the doubt, it didn’t warrant the investment in time or resources to meet with Jesus. How many of us want a relationship with God, or a closer relationship with God, but end up further away because of all the necessary “things” we need to do in life. This is one of the great advantages of Lent: it gives us the opportunity to engage more in our spiritual life with a set amount of space and time. 

Herod hoped to see Jesus perform some sign. How many times do we ask God for a sign and then feel disappointed when it doesn’t happen? To me, it seems like when I approach life looking for signs or divine influence, I’m much more able to see them, than if I ask specifically for a particular occurrence. Is it because I’m looking for a sign to see that what I want is what God wills? How much God blesses us when we, in faith, trust in His providence? Rather than asking Him for signs to believe in Him, we believe in Him and see the signs around us. For others, a sign is a requirement before belief; perhaps even if they see the sign, they explain it away, rather than opening up to truly welcome God into their life. 

Herod was looking for Jesus to prove who He was and His importance. While Herod was initially glad to see Jesus, because Jesus did not meet his expectations, Herod dismissed him. How often do we dismiss Jesus because He hasn’t met up with our expectations? Is it truly fair for us to put expectations on any person — Jesus, our family members, our friends, our coworkers, really anyone? Is it any wonder that Jesus does not respond to Herod at all? Jesus is not a magician to put on a show for others, rather He is a healer looking for those with faith to respond to Him. It is when we acknowledge our frailty and need of Him, opening ourselves up to whatever God wills, that we can be healed, changed, and transformed. 

But she stayed

The Gospel from last Sunday (Jn 8:1-11) about the woman caught in adultery has haunted me for the past few days. While there are many pieces to ponder and various levels of spirituality one can glean from it, I keep tripping up over one very obvious yet very subtle fact: the woman stayed standing in front of Jesus.

Most times in the Gospel readings there are minute details that a person can read through and totally not catch the depth of the meaning. But sometimes they can be frustratingly lacking in detail. We do not know the woman’s name or the circumstances of how she was caught in the trap of the Pharisees. Was she set up? Did she agree to be part of the plan? Did she make a habit of committing adultery, or was this the first time? Who was her husband? Was he in on the plan? John did not include any of these details in the account, perhaps out of mercy to her, so that we can’t invoke her name or her situation. 

One by one her accusers walk away and she is standing alone before Jesus. Could she read? Did she know what He was writing on the ground? Did she even know who Jesus was? Yet she stood there until He addressed her. Her response is just two short words acknowledging that no one had condemned her. She neither pleaded her innocence nor her guilt. Perhaps she was curious as to what Jesus would say, now that she survived the mob of vengeance. While it’s beautiful to hear Jesus saying He doesn’t condemn her either, He does give her a directive not to sin again.

We need to keep this story in mind as we celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. We stand (or sit, or kneel) before Jesus (who is personified by the priest) and while we don’t have a mob of people declaring all our offenses, we do await the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of the priest’s response: the counsel, the penance, and the absolution. In the most beautiful words, the absolution is like Jesus’ response to the woman,  “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Perhaps because I correlate the woman’s interaction with Jesus to the sacrament, I am curious as to what happened next for her. What did her husband say when she returned home? How did other people treat her after that? Was she shunned or did others forgive her once they found out that Jesus forgave her? Maybe most importantly, how was she changed by her interaction with Jesus? Did she become a follower? Alas, there is no more written of her, so we will never know in this lifetime. 

Even when comparing this account with the sacrament of reconciliation, I still marvel that she stayed standing after all her accusers left. I wonder if I had been in her shoes, would I have stayed there? Or, once I knew I was not going to be stoned, would I have walked away? Would I have waited until Jesus addressed me? Or would I have been too embarrassed by what had happened to want to have any sort of interaction with Him? Being branded an adulteress, perhaps she knew that Jesus was different from any other man she had ever met. Perhaps she heard about His healings and wanted to be healed as well. 

May we all have the courage of this adulteress to stand in our sin before God, seeking His healing mercy and the grace not to sin again. 

Why believe

This past Sunday’s Gospel was the famous story of the prodigal son. However, the alternate Gospel for the second scrutiny Mass in preparation for receiving the sacraments at Easter was the story of Jesus healing the blind man. While both readings spoke of healing, they also posed a deeper question: why believe?

The story of the prodigal son is one of hope but is also tinged with hurt. The younger son asks his father for his share of his inheritance and leaves to squander it all. Me, me, me is his perspective; he wants things his way. It’s only after everything is gone and he finds himself the caretaker of pigs that he starts to consider what life is all about. Even though he still has a selfish mindset, he knows the generosity of his father and would rather be a servant to his father, than a hungry swineherd. The lavish welcome the father gives his son tugs at our heartstrings and we appreciate the beauty of the moment. This son had to leave and lose everything in order to value his family. His initial belief system was tested and failed him. He learns that there is something greater than himself: his family.

The story does not end there. How many have heard this account from Luke and not felt a bit like the older brother? It’s not fair! How can a father totally forgive his son for living so recklessly? Those feelings are not unlike those that might bubble up when weekly churchgoing parishioners have to accommodate attendees they see only at the Christmas and Easter Masses. Yes, we all have a little bit of the older brother resentment in us. The older brother in the parable, however, is not much different than his younger brother, he too, has a selfish mentality. He complains to his father about how long he has “served” his father. This sentiment is not of a son who appreciates learning the business, receiving a gift to be nourished, strengthened, and passed onto the next generation. He sees his father as a taskmaster telling him what to do, and he responds out of filial responsibility, not out of love. The older brother may be the heir, but his belief system was tested when the father urges him to receive his brother back into the fold.

The healing of the blind man in John’s Gospel, focuses on what people believe in black and white: “We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” (Jn 9:29) Oh how sorry I feel for the Pharisees! How in the world can they know that God spoke to Moses? How can they know that beyond a shadow of a doubt? How can they know “that God,” yet be so completely clueless about Jesus: true God from true God? It’s great that they can recognize God’s handiwork in the past, yet it’s more the tradition that they are clinging to rather than seeking a relationship with Him. All of what Moses taught was so that the Israelites could learn to have a relationship with God, to lean on Him in times of trial, and to celebrate His generosity. While some generations of Israel had success in forging that relationship, too many others failed to the point where instead of becoming a great nation, Israel fell under Roman occupation. 

So why believe in God? He is our creator, the one responsible for giving us life. He is our redeemer, the One who gave His life for ours. He is our sanctifier, the One who will guide our way if we can just listen to Him. God wants a relationship with us, one as intimate as a Father. His generosity can be glimpsed in the amazing amount and variety of species that inhabit the earth. But it doesn’t stop with just the material things, His blessings include endless mercy showered upon us when we seek to be reconciled with Him. We believe not just because of stories and traditions, but because He has touched our lives in many ways. We believe, because we can see Him in our family, in our friends, and in the smiles of people we have yet to meet. 


Jesus taught us to call God, Father. While He is Almighty, Lord, and Creator, Father indicates a much more intimate relationship with us. It’s a bond that begins at the moment of our conception and lasts beyond the grave and into eternity.

God doesn’t just tell us something without giving us examples. While there are many fathers within the story of salvation history, not many are worthy to lift up. Abraham is the father of many nations. Yet he let Sarah convince him of doubting God’s ability to fulfill His promise of an heir and had him use her maid servant as a surrogate. Jacob preferred his children from Rachel over those he had with Leah, which caused strife within the family. And while David did find favor with God, he, too, was not the best model of fatherhood. 

This past weekend, we celebrated the feast of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, the actions of Joseph illustrate love and trust much more than any description could. Joseph is open to God’s word, even when it comes to him in a dream. He had made up his mind to divorce Mary after her pregnancy was revealed, but instead welcomed her into his home once he understood it was God’s will. He took his family into Egypt to wait out Herod’s reign, and provided for them in a foreign country where he knew no one. Perhaps the most poignant of all, he witnessed by example that children are not ours, but rather belong to God’s will when Jesus stayed behind in the Temple during their annual trip to Jerusalem. Joseph was love in action, fully trusting in God. We think of him as the silent type, since no word of his is recorded in the Bible, but perhaps he was a very chatty man and spoke eloquently. Perhaps he enjoyed singing while he worked with wood in his carpentry shop. However, out of all the men recorded in the Bible, Joseph is the best example of fatherhood, because of what he did.

For some, considering God as “Father” can be difficult. Yet, as I was pondering this blog, I realized that I consider myself a “pet parent.” I regularly refer to myself as “Mommy” when I’m talking to Vera. Why do I consider myself a “mother” to Vera? Because I care about her well-being: I feed her, interact with her, and clean up after her. Her snuggles and purrs convey her appreciation and put a smile on my face. If I can do that for my cat, how much more does God do for us? The best way we can show our appreciation is to trust in Him and His will for us. Saying “Thanks Dad” daily to God the Father, well that’s just the start of what we can do!