Arriving home after a long day, do you think Joseph ever went into his “man cave” to have his space or take a personal time out before dealing with the trivialities of Mary and Jesus?  What an absurd thought, and yet how many of us retreat into our personal space when coming home.   True, sometimes we must find a way to shake off the dust of the outside world, to shelve or shake off the stresses of the day without impacting those we love.

How can we support one another, to share the trials and battles of our day and find the comfort of being home?

I remember a time after a terribly long day and battling the weather to make it home safely, all I wanted to do was escape into my room, close the door and hide. God had other plans. Walking through the door, ready to growl, I instead experienced immense joy as I was greeted by my son who was excited to show me artwork he had drawn to welcome me home. He then proceeded to draw my attention to the living room he had vacuumed. This was very unexpected, and I was filled with gratitude for his love when I needed it most.

I believe our family interactions are a loving gift from God. It builds a positive family dynamic and a knowing awareness among those who experience it. In the case of my son, he had witnessed my reactions to instances where my husband had done similar acts of love for me.  Coincidence, I think not.

Our children watch us; our children emulate the behaviors and actions they witness.  Jesus witnessed the love between Joseph and Mary, the gifts of love they shared with each other as well as the gifts given to the community in which they lived.  Jesus was not exposed to the influences of social media; however, he was exposed to the social influences of his community as we all are.

What do you look like in the eyes of your son or daughter, your niece or nephew, your grandchild, or the young person in the grocery store?  Do they see your words and behaviors as loving or angered? Do you speak kindly or ignore them?  How will your actions be repeated by the innocence of the eyes watching you?  How can we practice asking for forgiveness when we have transgressed?  How can we as a community support each other as we are bombarded spiritually and physically with the challenges of daily life?

Maybe it is just acknowledging a person with a smile or a kind word for a parent who is struggling with a tired child. We can subtly bring the joy of God’s love into our communities, through our daily interaction as mentors and caregivers to support one another, our universal family, both spiritually and physically.

Joseph must have experienced immense joy at home with his family — Mary and Jesus.  The fact that little is written about Joseph, tells me that Joseph’s love was so great for his family, his personal “man cave” was within the life of his family, his love for God and serving others with joy.

May we all support one another in experiencing this joy within our own homes.  Please pray with me:

Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

To you God entrusted his only son;

In you Mary placed her trust;

With you Christ became a man.

Blessed Joseph, to us too,

Show yourself a father

And guide us in the path of life.

Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,

And defend us from every evil.  Amen.

— Terri McCormack is marriage and family life coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington.

—Originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.