“Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, … do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
- Daily Mass Readings
Give some affirming encouragement to a father you know: your own father, your friend, your son, your child’s father. Write a letter, say thank you, show him you notice his efforts. Have a special dinner where the family blesses the father (or father figure).
By way of appreciation, you might bless the “fathers” in your life with Aaron’s blessing:
May the Lord bless you
and keep you;
May the Lord
make his face
to shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace
- Stations of the Cross
Stations of the the time of COVID here
The Stations of the Cross are live streamed from St. Peter’s Church each Friday of Lent at 7pm.
Models of Fatherhood
Over the years I have come to appreciate St Joseph as a model of compassion. In fact, his gentleness, compassion and sense of honour makes him a great model for men – he displays some great qualities of a life-giving masculinity in this age of debates about “toxic masculinity”.
The gospel of Matthew tells us that Mary was found to “be with child”. In the first century patriarchal society of Israel/Palestine this is no small issue and Joseph had every right to disgrace Mary. Imagine the alternative scene of Joseph dragging Mary out in front of family and friends, for the whole town to witness, and accusing her of cheating (I can’t even use the word adultery). The possibility of stoning is real. However, putting aside pride and social honour, Joseph compassionately decides to informally break off his engagement to Mary. Later he is told by an angel in a dream what we know now and he takes Mary as his wife. Wow! He then cares for Mary and the child Jesus with all the devotion and love of a father. He even embarks on a perilous journey to Egypt as a refugee to escape the dangers of Herod.
Model of fatherhood, the little we know about Joseph points to him being a respectful, righteous and compassionate man.
In Khalid’s story we might see something of the hardship of being a refugee father trying to provide the essentials of food and shelter for his family in a foreign land. Will anyone show compassion?
The world is full of stories of men “stepping up” to the challenge of caring for families: biological families, blended families, men who take on the raising of step children and various “alternative” families. It takes a lot of compassion to be a good father. Do we affirm enough this nurturing side of men or do we still think of it as the woman’s role?
What is our response when we hear about or meet a refugee father trying to establish a place for his family in Ireland… a single father maintaining a loving connection to his child… a step-father… a same-sex family with 2 dads…? Do we judge or do we encourage compassion and love to flourish?