"Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home."
My wife and I just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. We have four kids who range from 25 down to 2. Those four kids have three different biological fathers. Context is everything and I want to give you some context to this. When my wife and I met 18 years ago, she had a 7-year-old son. She had given birth to him when she was 16 years old and when she was 19, her son's father committed suicide. Casey has no memory of his birth-father. He has a few pictures and only what his mother has told him over the years. It was over the course of the next five years of our relationship and subsequent engagement that I made the conscience decision that Casey and I would not have a relationship with the prefix "step" in front of anything. It was all or nothing and the three of us were "all in". Even before my return to the Church, Saint Joseph was working on me, and just as he did, I took a son who wasn't mine, and made him my own.
In 2004, after we were married, we expanded our family. Brady was born and three years later Bailee was born. We were one big happy family. Casey never thought of his new siblings as "half-siblings", and they certainly (not being old enough) never thought of their big brother as anything less. In 2015, we were given the opportunity to adopt a six-month old little girl. Once again I was given the privilege to raise another child who I didn't share common DNA with. By this time, I had grown quite fond of Saint Joseph, earthly-father of Jesus. I was already praying often to St. Joseph for his intercession- for the guidance of being a father. Per the Jewish law and custom of the time, Joseph held every right to divorce and humiliate Mary. She by all accounts was an adulterer. She carried within her a child that was not Joseph's. However, God spoke to Joseph through a dream telling him the nature of Jesus. That Jesus was God's Son. Joseph chose then to take on the responsibility of fatherhood and the awesome and unprecedented responsibility for caring for God's Son. Joseph undoubtedly cared for Jesus just as he would have had they been of blood relation.
Personally, I can relate to Saint Joseph on an intimate level. Both he and I have cared for and adopted and taken on children that we didn't have a hand in creating, yet have made them our own in every sense. My grandpa, who was adopted over 90 years ago used to always say, "Every child deserves a mom and dad that love them." It was these words that were always on my heart, encouraging me and inspiring me to love a child as my own...just like Saint Joseph. I pray daily now to Saint Joseph for his intercession in my adventures as a father.
I don't necessarily have a reflection for today as I normally do with the exception that on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, pray for fathers everywhere. We need good fathers to raise our children without hesitation. We need good fathers to witness to and be positive role-models for our sons and young men in our lives. Men, if you are involved with a woman who brings children into your relationship, communicate with your wife/girlfriend as to how you can be a positive role-model in their child's life. If possible, work with the child's father and develop, if possible, a relationship with him as well. Let them know you are not there to replace him, but rather complement him. There is no doubt this can be difficult and painful for everyone involved. Communication is key. Of course, if you have difficulty, pray to Saint Joseph for his intercession.
Thought for the day: You do not have to share DNA with a child to love them like a true son or daughter. Just as Saint Joseph took Jesus and raised him as his very own child, do not be afraid in doing so yourself. The world needs good fathers. Saint Joseph, Pray for us.