Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. Do you know what that means? Meat on a Friday in Lent!!! Yes, that is true, but it does mean more than that. I am going to use this as a semi-cheat day because I really enjoyed the message Bishop Barron shares with us today, but I also have so many stories that relate to today’s Gospel. 5 come to mind, so I’ll give the Readers Digest of them all.
Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple…
Story 1. Don’t remember how old I was, but our cousins from Texas were in for a visit and everyone had gathered at my grandparents house in the City. All the cousins decided to go for a walk and it wasn’t long before I was bored and tired of being ignored by the rest. Long story short – they took a right and I took a left knowing that I could find my way back to Grandma’s. Left turned to right, right turned to left, right turned to wrong and bam – I was lost in the Big City. A family saw me pass their house countless times and ended up pulling me into their yard and calling the police to come get me. Ended up at the precinct, was booked and arrested for jay walking – no, I wasn’t arrested. Yada, Yada, Yada, I’ve been teased ever since because of the way I answered three questions: What is your name? I replied “Messy Moto” because that is all my Dad called me. What are your parents names? Duh – Mom and Dad. What is your favorite cereal? Every kid in the world’s favorite cereal was Captain Crunch, but when you’ve been detained by the P.oPo, strange words come out of your mouth – so I told them Cheerios. To this day, I have no idea how my parents were able to find out where I so they could come get me. I’m sure St. Joseph interceded and led them to my rescue.
Story 2. Uncle Bob came to visit us while living in Decatur, IL. Decided to treat him to our favorite Chinese Buffet, loaded up the van and took off to the restaurant. Being the good parents Sarah and I are ;), as we were walking into the restaurant, IT WAS UNCLE BOB who was counting heads, Sarah and I were trying to get our plates. Turns out we were missing a child (do you remember this Cecilia). Uncle Bob and I jumped back into the van, headed back to the house and found a rather stern looking child sitting on the front porch waiting to give me a piece of her mind. In order to smooth things over with my daughter, I told her Mom was supposed to count heads and when she tapped Uncle Bob on the head as he got in the van, it threw her count off.
Story 3. We had moved back to St. Louis but headed back to Decatur over a Christmas Break to visit friends. We were staying in a hotel room (cheapskate here sprung for two room this time – boys in one, girls in the other. The time I rented ONE room is a story for another day.). Any who, we were going to meet all of the guys I worked with at Bodine Electric at a local sports restaurant. We had everyone meet in the boys room, we did a head count (after learning our lesson – see story 2 above), loaded up the van and headed to the restaurant. As we pulled in, my cell phone rang and strangely enough, it was the hotel calling me. Did I mention Grace brought a boyfriend with her? Guess what, tapped heads for the count and that extra one threw us off again. We left Ruth behind at the hotel; she worked up the courage to go down to the main desk and have them call us. I went back and got her. Turns out she was just as mad as Cecilia. I’m beginning to think kids don’t like being left behind.
Story 4. Two quick ones combined and Sarah and I can’t be blamed for either one. Well, we could be, but I’m trying my best to save face. Both involve our sweet innocent Mary. First one was at Walmart, where she strayed from the cart, got scared and dove into the inside of one of those round clothes racks. Sarah searched the entire store; I believe they did a child alert over the PA and someone ended up finding her in the clothes rack and was safely returned her safely to Sarah. Next Mary story was we had finished eating dinner one summer night (at our house on Union Street in Decatur). I went out to scrape paint from the house and Sarah was doing dishes. Kids were playing in the yard and Mary decided to hop on the big wheel. Sarah came out, did a head count and realized that Mary was missing. We started looking all over for her and word got out to the neighbors that Mary was missing. It was heart warming to see all of our neighbors stop what they were doing – some of whom we didn’t even know – and help in the search. Turns out Mary took a left out of the driveway on the big wheel and didn’t stop until she got to Eldorado. Well, maybe not quite that far, but she was about three blocks down when they found her. Again, I believe St. Joseph had to have intervened on Mary’s behalf because someone we didn’t know found her and brought her right back to us. Thank you St.Joseph.
Story 5. This has nothing to do with lost children. Correction, this story involves my brothers John Jeff, Jim and Jay, so it does have to do with lost children. We had all met at my brother John’s house in Phoenix to play some golf, drink some adult beverages, play a little trivia and pick out our fantasy baseball teams. We had decided to go to a restaurant for lunch but for some reason, Dad decided not to come with us. I can tell you the day – Friday, March 19, but I’m drawing a blank on the year. Anyway, my brothers knew it was a Friday in Lent. As we got the menu’s, Jim and Jay dared me to order a meal with meat in it and they actually made this promise to me. “Go ahead and order a hamburger or chicken wings – we won’t tell Dad on you.” I am a man in my mid-forties and my brothers are promising they won’t tell Dad on me for eating meat on a Friday in lent. You think you’re dad was tough? I am here to tell you, they would have told Dad. I am also hear to tell you that Dad would have whipped off his belt and put me over his knee. My saving grace was that is was 3-19 – The Solemnity of St. Joseph – and the obligation to abstain from meat is always lifted on a Solemnity. So I ordered a burger — and wings. When we got back, Jim and Jay told Dad what I did. He being an ordained deacon of the Church said “It’s the Solemnity of St. Joseph – Jerry can eat meat today.” And then he took his belt off and put me over his knee!!!
I hope I haven’t bored you with my stories that I’m reminded of whenever I hear this Gospel proclaimed. Now, for thoughts from Bishop Barron.
Reflect: Think of a situation in your life that is out of your control. How much do you trust God and let yourself be led by him through this situation? Where do you have difficulties acting as Joseph did in this Gospel passage?
Do something great for our Lord today – enjoy it. This day was made by the Lord. Celebrate St. Joseph. Watch some basketball – and be sure to count your children’s heads (all of them) if you decide to go out to eat.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.
But you man of God chose righteousness (just as St. Joseph did), devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.