By Margaret Ogbebor SSMA
Another spirituality of St. Joseph was his strong “faith” in God, a significant role in the history of our salvation. From the stories we read in the Bible, we can see that it was only through dreams that God instructed him (Joseph) and he believed and did as he was instructed. The first time was when he was told to take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:20) and the second time, when he was told to take the child (Jesus) to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill him (Matthew 2:13-23), all these instructions came to him through dreams and he believed without arguing or questioning whether it is God’s will or not. According to the catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), “faith is a supernatural gift of God which enables us to believe without doubting whatever God had revealed”. His strong faith in God made him believe what God communicated to him in the dream. St. Joseph saw the gift of his dream as a channel through which God communicates with him and continued to make the channel function of being faithful to him, taking the instruction from the dream with faith and courage. It takes strong faith to believe that what he saw in the dream were not a mirage, illusion or imagination. His strong faith in God came into play when he was told that his wife to be (Mary) is already pregnant not with the help of another man but by the power of the Holy Spirit. It takes somebody with a high level of faith to believe that, situations like that could actually happen. Looking at the whole life of St. Joseph, we can see that he worked by faith not by sight. This made him to stand out among those who had lived a righteous life. The gift of faith which St. Joseph possessed is what the Lord asked of us as Christians. “If your faith is like that of a mustard seed, you will be able to move mountains” (Luke 17:5-6). Faith should be the foundation of every Christian because, without faith, our Christianity is nothing. Our faith in God helps us to believe that if we ask anything of him he will do it. We can only see God through the eyes of faith. Faith is an important element of our Christian belief. Faith is the powerful force that pushes us forward even when our physical bodies are not moved. It is a gift bestowed upon us from above. It helps us to do things we would ordinarily not do. Faith moves God into action and also help us to trust in Him.
“If you love me, keep my commandment” (John 14:15). Loving God is not only when we pray, going to church frequently or singing hymns of praises and thanksgiving. It is more than that; it involves the totality of the human person, body, soul and spirit. Loving God helps us to know him better and also understand what he requires from us. Loving God is a gift each one of us should possess as Christians, because He was the first to love us by “sending his son into the world, that anyone who beliefs in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). This love flowed consistently in the mind of St. Joseph which made him obey every commandment of God without reserve. The love of God is another spirituality practised by St. Joseph. He was a man of love; he was able to show this love to his family members (Jesus and Mary) and even the people around Him. He loved and protected his family from the clutches of Herod and his evil plans. Looking at our lives as Christians, the element of love is very important in whatever we do; we are expected to love God and our neighbours (those around us) and to always forgive our enemies. Love never comes to an end because it is continuous. The love of God is above human standard and no one can comprehend it. The love of God for us was demonstrated on the cross when He sacrificed His only son for the salvation of the world. St. Joseph also followed this footstep by sacrificing his personal happiness for our salvation, so that we could be saved and redeemed. Many a time as Christians, we find it difficult to love God because of our own selfish interest. We should always remember that love is kind, love is patient, love is not boastful, it does not gloat over evil but delights in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). The above qualities about love were found in the life of St. Joseph.
Grace is a supernatural gift of God bestowed on us for our justification and salvation (CCC 139). St. Joseph was endowed with special graces; he was favoured to see the fulfilment of the promise made to his forefathers being manifested before his eyes. This grace made him to attain a higher state of perfection that brought about our salvation. The power of grace is very efficient to the extent that even when our physical strength is down grace does carry us far. It is supernatural in nature which means it is only God who has the power to give it to whosoever He wishes to give. It is not earn by hard work or cleverness, it is given to those whom He so desires to give and also those whom God is sending on special assignments. When God is sending one on a mission He would fortify that one in every way to make sure that the work is carried out. God never sent any one on an errand without a support; He would also be at the forefront to see that everything is carried out according to His plans. St. Joseph was given this privilege to enjoy God’s favour and grace. This gift of grace made him to be different from every other creature made by God. He was able to exhibit the true image of God in a human form. He was kind, gentle, humble, caring and hardworking; he was never arrogant because he had a stimulant (grace) that helps to regulate his behaviour and character. His angelic nature gives a complete picture of what a father should be. He was a man of honour.
Sr Margret Ogbebor SSMA is a Catholic Nun, working in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto. She is the Head Teacher of St Martin de Porres Nursery and Primary School Katsina. firstname.lastname@example.org