Keeping up with the Josephs

by Kevin Birnbaum

The_Holy_family_with_a_LambThe Holy Family with a Lamb by Raphael (1483-1520)

Man, the Holy Family is amazing—there’s not a weak link in that chain. You’ve got Joseph, the patron saint of the Universal Church. You’ve got Mary, the spotless Queen of Heaven. And then of course there’s Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity.

But even for this most holy of families, things were never easy. They got off to a rough start when Mary turned up pregnant with a child that was not Joseph’s. They got past that, but then when it was time for Mary to give birth, she had to do it in a barn because they were on the road and couldn’t find a hotel room. Then a jealous, conniving king tried to murder the baby, so they all had to flee to Egypt. The only episode we know about from Jesus’ childhood involved his parents panicking after they lost him in Jerusalem for the better part of a week. Joseph died while his wife was still young. Then, to cap it all off, Mary had to stand by and watch as her only son was tortured and unjustly executed. No, things were never easy for the Holy Family.

Many Christians seem to believe that if they try to follow God’s will, things should go well for them. But holiness has nothing to do with an easy life, except perhaps to militate against it. If we are truly striving to live holy lives, we should expect to face tough decisions, difficult circumstances, mockery, persecution, and even death.

If the Holy Family could not escape such trials, why should we?