St. Joseph and the Christ-Child, Belmont Abbey

The rhythmic sound of a man steadily hammering away at work always brings to mind our dear St. Joseph. What a man! St. Joseph was a strong workman as so many good men who labor to provide the basics for their families today. Like them, Joseph came home tired after a long day at work. How happy he must have been to find Mary waiting for him, her eyes full of love as she met him at the door, holding the most beautiful child that ever graced the earth in her arms. As Jesus grew up in their home, the love between Mary and Joseph grew as well. Both were totally-given to the Holy Spirit, completely wed to Him. Because of this, they could love each other with deep purity, safeguarding the other’s total dedication to God. When Joseph returned from work each day, Mary met him with her loving and understanding heart. Her smile expressed deep appreciation for his goodness and beauty and for all he had done for her and Jesus during the day. Her love kept Joseph strong and gave him hope.

Mary also labored during the day for Joseph. She shared with him the hot meal, carefully prepared according to his taste, and served him the water that was patiently drawn and carried home from the well. She also cared for the Light of his eyes, the little Jesus, looking after all the Savior’s needs with great tenderness. Joseph watched Jesus blossom in her love. Mary made, mended, and hand-washed the Holy Family’s clothes. She kept their home warm and welcoming, planned and prepared all their meals, and watched over the animals – all without the benefit of modern conveniences! What a beautiful married love they had for one another and for God, Who was living in the midst of them in their home! In our children today, God can be seen shining through, allowing married couples a very similar experience of living with God’s pure bundles of love right there under their care!

This deep love that Mary and Joseph had for one another was rooted in the Holy Spirit’s presence living within them. Their love was real, it was selfless, and so it moved them to serve the other and to labor the way their son Jesus would later model for his disciples to love. Jesus taught them to wash each other’s feet, to feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned, basically to be lovingly attentive to the needs of others. This is what He learned from Mary and Joseph. The love that they had for one another in their hearts sanctified their work and made it joyful instead of burdensome. Mary served Joseph and Joseph served Mary, laboring each day for the other and for their son, Jesus.

I saw this lived out every day of my life at my own home where my mother and father labored to care for each other and for all six children, engaging in the ever-present battle to let love reign in all things. Though they supported one another with little acts of kindness and attentiveness during the day, their special time to share heart to heart was later at night, after all the needs had quieted down, and I could hear them talking as they got ready for bed. I will never forget the beauty of my mom listening to my dad as he shared about his day, entrusting his heart to her care. Her loving response restored his energies for the next day’s labor just as Mary’s restored Joseph’s, and it worked the other way around too. The daily labor we all do is sanctified by the love in our hearts for the people in our lives. What a very simple plan for holiness God has given us all.

By: Sister Isabelle, O.C.D.

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