Monday, March 19, 2018

St. Joseph Guardian. . . role model to men. . .

Man up once meant to tough it out and just do it.  My father lived by this motto.  He worked until just weeks before he died, on this date, just before his 88th birthday.  In fact that is just about all he ever did.  He worked in the business he built.  He worked for his congregation.  He worked in the community.  But under it all, he worked for me, my brother, and my mom.  Don't get me wrong, he was not perfect.  He had plenty of flaws.  But he excelled in modeling the faith and a generous spirit (too often at odds with the well-being of his business and his family's security).  He did not get many breaks in life but he did not brood on this injustice.  He did plenty of things for people who did little in return (including me) but he was not bitter.  He just got up every morning and read in his Bible, Luther's Catechism, sometimes the Book of Concord, always the Portals of Prayer, and prayed.  It was before breakfast or work or anything else.  As a child I sometimes watched him.  As a teenager I wondered why he found it all so compelling.  As a man I wished for the same kind of unflinching dedication and devotion.

On this day we recall St. Joseph, Guardian of our Lord.  His life is rather sparsely sketched out for us in Scripture.  The debate rages between those who see him as a young man and those who insist he was older, perhaps a widower, when he considered putting Mary away quietly before the Spirit called him to take her as his wife and care for her son as his own.  I have my own opinions, to be sure, but there is one thing unmistakable.  He is the model of the faithful father figure.  When the Lord spoke, he listened.  When the Lord directed, he did what the Lord said.  But most of all, he made sure that Jesus grew up in the synagogue and in the temple.  Faith was not peripheral to Joseph and not to his household.  Whatever else, the Lord knew he had entrusted His only Son into the care of a man of faith.  Not perfect, mind you, but a man of faith.

I say to men unsure of their responsibilities or unwilling to surrender their independence or uncertain whether the rewards of being husband and father are sufficient to fill your life -- man up.  Men have gotten a bad rap lately, much of it well deserved, because we act like immature boys.  We snicker at life and its real responsibilities like little boys giggling over somebody's stinky fart.  We treat women like toys and then toss them aside when we tire of them.  We easily forget our duty as dads to the children we have fathered but then abandoned.  Look at society.  Look at the numbers of children who have no Joseph in their lives, no men who will do what is right when it is neither easy nor popular.  Where are the men?  Why do men find it so hard to man up and do what we were created to do?

Every Sunday I look out in my congregation and see young men with babies -- some of them in the army only month from or months till deployment.  I see them bring their wives and sons and daughters to church and it gives me hope.  I know the men my sons have become and my daughter married and I am encouraged.  It may not be popular and it is certainly not yet a movement, but I can see men like Joseph who hear and heed the Word of the Lord, who love their wives more than themselves, who care for their children as gifts from God. 

We need young men like this in a world in which men have become old adolescents whose lives revolve around their technology and toys.  To those who have floundered in their roles as husbands and fathers, it is time to repent and rededicate yourself to doing your best for them.  To those fearful of becoming a husband and father, it is time to trust the Lord and become like Joseph, an honest and decent and godly man.  To women who have decided they cannot wait for men to be men, it is time to give some of those men a chance to be men, not for them but for you and for your children.

On this St. Joseph's Day, I think of my dad who died on this day in 2015.  And I pray that I am the kind of man he was.  And I pray that men will reawaken to the noble character of their calling as men, for the sake of their families and for the sake of their church and for the sake of their communities.  It is time for all of us men to simply man up.

No comments: