Let’s look at what he has done leading up to this moment. Joseph is described as a righteous man and his actions speak of his virtuous and noble character. Even in the midst of the uncertainty of Mary’s unplanned pregnancy, Joseph loved her. He loved her enough to not expose her to shame when he planned on divorcing her quietly. He loved her enough to take her into his home after being told to do so by the angel. He loved her enough to sacrifice for her.
On the journey to Bethlehem, Joseph walked while Mary rode on the back of a colt. Instead of traveling in a large caravan, Joseph was the only protection Mary and the baby in her womb had against the elements—weather, robbers, wild animals. Joseph allowed Mary to sleep, while he kept watch at night. Joseph certainly sacrificed for his spouse and the child. This is what the Lord called him to do—this was his vocation. Joseph is the patron saint of the universal Church and a model for priests for this very reason.
A priest must make sacrifices for the Church, for his flock. The priest is called to lead and protect the people he serves just as Joseph led and protected Mary and the infant Jesus. A priest leads the faithful on their journey. Although there are so many different paths people walk on, one of the constants in their lives is their priest, he leads them to Christ. Through his preaching he protects them from idleness and straying from the faith, through his presence he protects them from loneliness, though his prayers and the sacraments, he protects them from despair and encourages them to live in hope. Yes, the priest is called to lead and protect.
A priest gives of himself, often tirelessly, for the good of his parishioners, students, and colleagues. Priests do not work 9-5, and with many dioceses finding themselves without enough priests to cover the vast array of ministries and parishes, these men are asked to take on multiple roles. A priest may be assigned to a parish and as an administrator for the diocese; he may be a High school chaplain and a parish priest; Pastors may also be in charge of diocesan priest personnel. Yet through life’s unforeseen circumstances and added responsibilities, like Joseph, priests give of themselves for the good of the Church, for the sake of Christ’s call.
In fact, St. Joseph dealt with a lot of unforeseen and unexpected circumstances, like when it came time for Mary to give birth—Joseph, in the middle of that cold night, ran door to door looking for a place to welcome the Lord into the world. That night Joseph, whether he was afraid or working on pure adrenaline and instinct, he trusted in the Lord’s call. The Lord called him to a task and equipped him for it. Joseph did not need to be afraid, worried or scared, but through trust in the Lord, he shows men even today what living out one’s vocation means.
On this blessed celebration of Christmas, may the Lord guide you, protect you, and lead you on your journey through His priests. And May the Lord bless you in your own discernment and living out your individual vocation! Merry Christmas.