There was no human being on this earth who loved the Blessed Virgin Mary more than St. Joseph. He loved her with a love that is beyond words…even when she revealed to him that she was going to have a baby…a baby that was not biologically his, who would be the Messiah. St. Joseph loved her even then. He could have had her put to death, yet he was a loving and just man and decided to send her away quietly. He did not want to bring shame or guilt upon her. He loved Mary, and she loved Him. We can imagine the intense prayer of St. Joseph at this time…seeking the light of God…and as we know light came! In a dream, St. Joseph hears: “Joseph. son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20).
It took great courage for Mary to reveal to St. Joseph that she was to be a mother…the mother of the Messiah. We can imagine the questions and struggle in St. Joseph…he loved Mary yet she was carrying a child that was not biologically his. We can imagine the sorrow and confusion in the heart of St. Joseph. Mary had complete and total trust in the Lord. Mary knew the law…she knew he could have had heard her put to death…yet Mary had complete faith in the Lord and totally surrendered to the will of God. Even if St. Joseph would reject her, one thing was certain…the Lord would not reject her! Because of her faith and trust in the Lord, and knowing the love that St. Joseph did have for her, she was able to speak the truth…for Truth was made Incarnate in her womb, and when the time was right, God spoke to St. Joseph and gave him light to see.
Thinking about the love story of Mary and St. Joseph brought something to mind that most people struggle with: sometimes we can live in great fear of being “cast out” from the lives of people who love us if we reveal a part of us that is broken and in need of healing. Sometimes we can have a fear of being vulnerable and revealing the struggle within. But this fear of being “cast out” is not living with the mindset and heart that Mary had. Everyone carries something…some Cross…and sometimes we need the support of others in order to carry it with patience and hope. Otherwise we can become very fearful and lonely. We need to be able to share our burdens with people who love us. Mary shared this truth with St. Joseph…she knew he loved her. Sometimes we can fear because we do not know right away the response that we will receive from the other person: “Will they still love me if I tell them this?” “Will they still think that I am a worthy person if I tell them this?” It is true that we do take a risk revealing a part of ourselves that is painful and in need of healing…but knowing that the person who is listening to you loves you increases faith and trust in the relationship. We cannot expect people to be perfect and to react to our situations perfectly…that is the reality of life. However, within ourselves we can maintain a true and lasting peace like Mary had knowing that God would never reject her, even if men do.
There may be times where we need to listen to another’s burdens, struggles and trials. This is truly honorable, for it is an act of love to listen to another. Sometimes, people just need to be listened to. People just need to know that they are loved. However, sometimes people are weak to reveal themselves…they want to feel safe, secure and accepted. They want assurance before speaking that you will not cast them out, but that you will receive them, right there in that brokenness. Being open to listening is a tremendous gift. Words of compassion can really help the soul feel safe: “You know I love you, and I care about you, and if you ever need to speak to me, I am here for you.” “If you ever want to talk some time, I would be very happy to talk with you!” Sometimes beginning with being vulnerable yourself can help another person to open up in their situation…this builds trust and confidence.
Of course, we will not share our struggles, burdens and Crosses with everyone. We would never start preaching from the street: “Guess what everyone…let me tell you what I am struggling with right now!” No…don’t do that. You are a precious treasure created out of love, and so, you want to share those things that are deep and personal with people in your life who love you and who you can trust. Spiritual directors, spouse, parents, close and trustworthy friends, confessors, and even at times counsellors are just a few examples of people who we may need to share our burdens with. Sometimes others can help shed light on situations and trials…light that we are not able to see yet because of fear. Of course, before we discuss any sorrow or trial, we need to bring our burdens to the Blessed Sacrament. We need to go to Jesus and ask the Lord to help the person receive what we say with an understanding heart. I am sure that our Blessed Mother prayed to the little child in her womb that he would help St. Joseph to understand. God helped St. Joseph to understand!
St. Joseph pray for us!
Image from Christian Art Website