St. Joseph the Worker as the Model of Healing for the Sons of St. Joseph

“St. Joseph takes us into his carpenter shop; and (as the sun glances through the open door) he teaches us not in words but in deeds that in the glorious drama of life in which we are all called to participate it is not the man who plays the leading role who is necessarily the best actor. No! It is the one who conscientiously portrays his part, no matter in how trivial or secondary a way he may be cast, who is adjudged the best. The life of St. Joseph brings home to us the success of failure; for most people are classed as failures. St. Joseph tells us that the little wayside pool may reflect the moon and the stars and the whole canopy of heaven just as clearly – perhaps more clearly – than the mighty ocean.
We are told that the gossamer threads, blown hither and thither by the winds, often carry tiny seeds with them, and these seeds in after years fructify in the most unlooked-for spots on earth.
Many the tiny seeds of laboriousness which St. Joseph with such painstaking care planted about the carpenter shop at Nazareth be wafted into the hearts of all of us, and may these seeds grow into mighty trees, to shield us against the storms of unrest, both material and spiritual, which beset us on every side.
And the seed which St. Joseph sowed – the lesson he inculcated is simply this: man’s happiness is not to be sought in unrestrained freedom but rather in the conscientious performance of his allotted task…”
~ David P. McAstocker, S.J. “The Carpenter” (1934).

“And the two carpenters work serenely in the shop. They are silent because they have no need of words to speak of the union and harmony between them. They look at each other. Jesus admires this man whom He calls Father; His eyes rest upon him with pleasure; this just man working beside Him, with Him, his face alight with holiness. Always wise, patient, foreseeing, selfless, devoted; his counsels prevail. His soul is closed to pride; the charity of his heart ceaselessly urges him to do for others. Over and over he says to himself the words of the Spirit on the days of creation: ‘God saw that all he had made was very good’ (Gen. 1:31). And Jesus saw that Joseph was God’s masterpiece. He thanked His heavenly father for the moral and religious grandeur hidden in this just man, whose docile soul, responsive to grace, fitted him perfectly for his mission.”
~ Michel Gasnier, O.P. “Joseph the Silent” (1962).

“Work was the daily expression of love in the life of the Family of Nazareth. The Gospel specifies the kind of work Joseph did in order to support his family: he was a carpenter. This simple word sums up Joseph’s entire life. For Jesus, these were hidden years, the years to which Luke refers after recounting the episode that occurred in the Temple: ‘And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them’ (Lk 2:51). This ‘submission’ or obedience of Jesus in the house of Nazareth should be understood as a sharing in the work of Joseph. Having learned the work of his presumed father, he was known as ‘the carpenter’s son.’ If the Family of Nazareth is an example and model for human families, in the order of salvation and holiness, so too, by analogy, is Jesus’ work at the side of Joseph the carpenter.”
~ St. John Paul II “Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris custos, of the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II on the Person and Mission of Saint Joseph in the Life of Christ and of the Church” (1989).

As men journeying towards healing of our same-sex attractions – we must pass through the carpenter shop in Nazareth; standing at the doorway, we are afraid to enter, for, once again we are the scared little boy who felt rejected by men: our fathers refused to love us, neglected us, or abandoned us; other boys made fun of us; we felt inferior to other men. In the child’s mind, the carpenter shop represents that forbidden and mysterious male space that we never felt invited into. For this reason, we sought out companionship and solace in the all-male word of homosexuality; for a while, and, for the first time, we obtained a false sort of acceptance and safety at the “gay” bars and dance-clubs, in a “gay’ relationship, and even in “gay” porn. But, none of these things lasted, and, we still felt uneasy and restless. We want to stop these feelings, we don’t know how and we are afraid, because, although we are often in misery – we have also grown comfortable with the way things are.

Something radical must take place in our lives; we must step through the threshold and enter the carpenter shop: that sacred male space that we always believed was a place were we didn’t belong. Yet, as our guide, we have the most loving and patient of men: St Joseph; and, we get to be taught besides the boy Jesus! So, there is nothing to fear. First, we must admit to ourselves that we are broken, that we have been hurt, and that we are hurting; only, in this woundedness, and in our humility, we will; be ultimately redeemed and glorified; second, we must look upon our Foster-father St. Joseph with new eyes and yearn for his love with a new heart – putting aside and being healed from the disordered longings which controlled our lives thus far; for, in him, we will not see merely an object of desire, but a man we wish to become; and, as St Joseph scattered many good seeds in the Church – we will find that there are good and just men willing to help us along the way; lastly, when we accomplish these things: through effort, by perseverance, toil and sweat, in both the spiritual and the psychological realm, we will become a true son of St. John the Worker, we will become “the carpenter’s son.”

One Comment

  1. Mary Arnold July 11, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Wow ! Such a beautiful reflection on St Joseph. You were aptly named by God to be another of his fostered sons….

Comments are closed.