St Joseph is a fine model for Lent, the season that invites us to examine how well we follow the child whom God trusted to his care. Joseph’s life is hidden, as ours are hidden. The world knows little about him, as it knows little about us. Yet Joseph taught the greatest Teacher the world has ever known (an inspiring thought for catechists).
Joseph was practical and he was a hard worker, two qualities that balance any tendency we might have to become overly spiritual.
In the image represented, he stands with sleeves rolled up, an axe leaning on his left leg, a jug of water in his right hand, and a whetstone in his left palm. He’s getting ready to sharpen his axe.
We are reminded that we, too, need to keep our tools sharp and ready. God gave us certain talents, but there’s always something to hone: a new skill to acquire, some reading to catch up on, clutter to discard in order to make space for God’s work.
If during Lent we fast from certain pastimes, we open more time for God. How can we use this time, the only real gift that we can give, back to Him? In order to keep building the kingdom in our own small corners, we know we have to grow. Here are some thoughts for introspection:
Shall I look at my weak areas- in technology perhaps? Should I try to upgrade my skills? How do I deepen an existing skill, such as storytelling?
Do the relationships in my life need nurturing? Is there one new/old friend to contact during Lent? Is there someone I‘d like to meet for a chat? Is there someone with whom I’ve been meaning to reconnect?
How can I make time for personal spiritual growth? After all, I cannot give to others what I do not have! Should I go beyond my comfort zone in trying a new prayer form such as centering prayer? Is there a Saint whose life story I want to read? What about learning a useful song by heart or memorising the new wording of the Creed so I can be a leader?
Do I need to get to know the machines in my life better? Do I understand that they are my servants? Do I abdicate my responsibility for ink cartridges, paper jams, setting up DVDs? Who can teach me to do practical tasks rather than being called when the jobs need doing? Who is my Joseph?
What can I do to stay on top of the paper in my life? Can I tackle my desk, one quadrant at a time as a penance?
These ideas are not New Year resolutions. Honing out talents and doing something about what is lacking is like keeping our kitchen knives sharp. Recognising our needs and forming new habits, however mundane, is the way we take Joseph as our model for Lent.
Source: The Catechist, Vol.45, No 6, March 2012, article by Page Zyromski