Today is 19 March, the Feast Day of Saint Joseph.
I’ve long been fascinated with Joseph. Growing up Roman Catholic, I remember being taught he was the foster father of Jesus as GOD was the actual father of Jesus. In more recent years, I’ve encountered more earthly explanations for Mary conceiving Jesus before her marriage to Joseph, including the idea that Joseph was the one who got Mary pregnant. Other ideas suggested Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, and that some other mortal man was. To me, the biological relationship between Joseph and Jesus isn’t as important as the familial relationship. Jesus was destined to be Great, as was his mother Mary. Joseph? From all I’ve been able to determine, it seemed he was called to a life of support for these other two Great Persons. Joseph’s call was that of Mundane Greatness.
It’s this Mundane Greatness that draws me to Saint Joseph. When my kids were young, and for the short time when I was a pastor’s spouse, I felt my calling was to support my family. To me, that was and still is the single most important calling I’ve ever had. Although, I make no claims to greatness. The calling to be a supportive parent and spouse? Well, that’s just what all parents and spouses are called to be. Yes, it can be a holy thing. But, it’s just the proper way: you care for those who depend on you.
At age 41, I began my gender transition. My kids still call me Dad, and this is good. It was the role I fulfilled during their childhood. I’d thought that maybe I’d feel a closer call to Mary after my transition, but looking back that seemed like a silly idea. Yes: I am a woman, but I’m still Dad. And so, I still feel that affinity for Saint Joseph.