Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
There is much scriptural evidence that David loved God. The Prophet Samuel tells us of David’s desire to build God a house in which to live. God Himself notes how he had lived “a wander’s life living in a tent”, (New Jerusalem Bible: 7:6) but it was not David whom God had willed to build His House; rather, it was David’s son, Solomon. David was made aware of this by Nathan who, by profession was a builder and, perhaps, David had acted impulsively and had already asked Nathan to begin the work. Similarly, St. Joseph must have been very confused to learn about Mary’s pregnancy and the role God had in mind for him.
I can imagine David’s perplexity! He loved God and, as an expression of that love, wanted to build a place for God to reside. Perhaps, he also felt it might be God’s will for him to do so but, even Thomas Merton laments that even though we may be confident that we are doing God’s will, we can never be certain that is the case. Like David and Merton, we are often confronted with the reality about which the Prophet Jeremiah writes,” My ways are not your ways; my thoughts are not your thoughts.” Tough realities for those of us who, particularly as Lay Dominicans, are trying our best to live in the center of God’s will. Sadly, we fail in this endeavor because we often impose our desires on our perception of what God wills for us. In order to discern God’s will, we have to remove ourselves from the equation. Sometimes, God’s will is not what we might have chosen on our own. Certainly, we can see this in the accusations, public scorn and humiliation Joseph would face in support of Mary and the child she was bearing was asking of Joseph a great deal. David was to be disappointed; Joseph was to be tested.
As a psychologist, I once asked a seminarian what one question he would ask me if I were seeking to enter ministry. His response was, “I would want to know who sent you?” In asking him to clarify the question, he said “Well, some are called (by God), some are sent (by a well-meaning family member), and some just ‘pack up and go’ (I presume, following their own desires).” Lent is a time to stop and hone our listening skills.