Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Joseph: A Model of Faithfulness

Joseph. He is the man on the outskirts, standing in the shadows, silently waiting, there when wanted and always ready to help. He is the man in whose life God is constantly intervening with warnings and visions. Without complaint he allows his own plans to be set aside. His life is a succession of prophecies and dream-messages, of packing up and moving on. He is the man who dreams of setting up a quiet household, simply leading a decent home life and going about his everyday affairs, attending to his business and worshiping God and who, instead, is condemned to a life of wandering. Beset with doubts, heavy hearted and uneasy in his mind, his whole life disrupted, lie has to take to the open road, to make his way through an unfriendly country, finding no shelter but a miserable stable for those he holds most dear. He is the man who sets aside all thought of self and shoul¬ders his responsibilities bravely — and obeys.

His message is willing obedience. He is the man who serves. It never enters his head to question God's commands; he makes all the necessary preparations and is ready when God's call comes. Willing, unquestioning service is the secret of his life. It is his message for us and his judgment of us. How proud and presumptuous and self-sufficient we are. We have crabbed and confined God within the pitiable limits of our obstinacy, our complacency, our opportunism, our mania for “self-expression.” We have given God — and with him everything that is noble and spiritual and holy — only the minimum of recognition, just as much as would serve to flatter our self-esteem and further our self-will. Just how wrong this is life itself has shown us since in consequence of our attitude we have come to abject bondage dominated by ruthless states which force the individual to sink his identity in the common mass and give his service whether he wishes or not. The prayer of Saint Paul — do with me what you will — the quiet and willing readiness to serve of the man Joseph, could lead us to a truer and more genuine freedom.

—Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J.

Father Delp (d. 1945) was condemned to death in Germany during World War II.

Click here to read more about the extraordinary life of Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J.