By Denise Trull
This is a house like all the other houses in old Nazareth. I try to picture the Holy Family here. I think every mom and dad down through the ages dearly wishes there had been more details shared about these hidden years.
I like to think of Our Lady going down to the well and listening without a trace of impatience, to the gabby old lady who liked to talk about her ailments; and then maybe walking softly away from gossip when she found it. I like to think of her feeding Jesus quietly by a window and kissing his little hands. So many things I wonder about Our Lady.
But it is Joseph that I truly wonder about on this day. That silent man given the task of protecting God the Father’s greatest treasures. Mary and Jesus.
Joseph is one of a handful of saints who had the unique experience of knowing Jesus as a Child. He was perhaps the one who got the first smile - that God smile which revealed that his delight truly was to be among the children of men.
Joseph was to feel that familiar weight on his chest of a baby completely surrendered to sleep. He heard that familiar hungry cry in the middle of the night as he patiently but sleepily got up and softly handed Him to Mary to be fed.
It was Joseph who perhaps cut up his meat, and tore his bread in little pieces and dipped it in goat's milk just the way he liked it.
It was Joseph who had the joy of receiving that distinctive "worshipful" look in a son's eyes as he watches his father build a fire for the first time, mend a toy, or name all the flowers and trees so capably on a walk.
Joseph taught him games, heard that glorious belly laugh of abandon that children fall into at the oddest times. He raced him around the yard.
He felt His hands on his neck and his weight up against him when he was tired and simply in need of Joseph's firm, fatherly hand on his head.
He perhaps wrestled with him and landed up in a tangled laughing heap at the end as Mary looked on shaking her head.
He knew what made Jesus sad. He heard his first tears. He watched Jesus pray and wondered at it. He taught Him how to say A-do-na-i. He told him jokes. He showed him the beauty of different grains of wood as they worked in his shop together.
Joseph knew Jesus's every look and what it meant. He knew Jesus's gratitude.
It is Joseph whose vocation it was to simply serve Jesus and his mother as a father and a husband. It is from Joseph that every single father feels the weight and dignity of his vocation to serve God in a child. It's a wonder, that. To serve God in a Child.
We would want so much to know the details of the hidden life these three shared: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. But not a word is said of what happened there except that "He grew in wisdom and age and grace.”
In some sense, though, we know what happened there. We live it every day.
In the hidden-ness of our home. The daily things done with joy and calm. Meditating often on our task to serve God in our children - for He is there in each one by baptism. Doing all the mom and dad things with grace exactly the way Mary and Joseph did them. To be glad in our vocation, because we share it with the Holy Family.
It’s a difficult task leading this simple and hidden life. That's why we have this feast. The Holy Family is our families' collective Patron saints. They will always help us. I am glad of it and grateful to the Church for it!
But don't you wish sometimes that you could hear Mary's voice talking about the daily things when you dropped by her house for a visit? I do.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us!