The Tender Father

The Tender Father

My husband is an amazing man, of course! I wouldn’t have married him if he weren’t. But, sometimes he’ll just blow me away and leave me super impressed.

For instance, take today. I’ve been feeling under the weather lately — I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve felt a bit sick to boot. This, of course, means that I am super forgetful, I’ll need tons of time to think of little things, and I fall asleep randomly a lot while the kids play. So, what does my husband do? He picks up the slack. My stomach is feeling weird? That’s okay — he can cook. The kids are being rowdy and they require tons of attention? That’s okay — he’ll play with them. I’ve forgotten to do the laundry… again? That’s okay — he’ll fit in a quick load. All this before heading off to work!

Not only that, but he does it with barely any complaints. If something needs to be done — even if it’s something that I usually like doing, such as cooking — and I can’t do it? He’ll help. And then he’ll do anything else that needs to be done — including fixing up our old house. Did I mention that my husband can do carpentry?

So, when I look at this artwork of the Holy Family, I can’t help but see my husband as St. Joseph:

Holy Family with Bird, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1650. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Yes, he’s a strong carpenter, and you can see some of his tools in the background. He is clearly a strong man! Yet, look at how extraordinarily tender he is with Jesus. Everything about his manner with him is gentle. Yes, he isn’t saying anything, but in this moment, his little actions of guiding along Jesus speaks volumes of his kindness and patience.

This picture echoes the gospels. Though St. Joseph doesn’t say anything in the gospels, his actions of striving to do his best for his family that God has given him speak volumes of his strength of character, his sense of duty to do right by God and his family, and his love of those he has been entrusted to tend.

And what a wonderful example he shows us! After all, isn’t that what all fathers should do? And isn’t that the sort of thing befitting of the spouse of the Blessed Virgin?

So today, even though I am feeling a bit odd still, I am still feeling very thankful. After all, if this is the sort of selfless love that a man like St. Joseph — who had his periods of profound doubts and even considered divorcing Mary at one point! — had for his family, can you just imagine the sort of love that awaits us with God?

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for showing us, through Your early life, a righteous man like St. Joseph. Help us parents follow his lead and take care of our families selflessly, just as he took care of You.

Amen.

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