Patris Corde 5a: Creative Courage

Pope Francis devotes about a thousand words to a reflection on Saint Joseph as a creatively courageous father. What does this mean? It is, according to the Holy Father, how we deal with obstacles in our life. We have to admit Joseph had his share of them.

If the first stage of all true interior healing is to accept our personal history and embrace even the things in life that we did not choose, we must now add another important element: creative courage. This emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties. In the face of difficulty, we can either give up and walk away, or somehow engage with it. At times, difficulties bring out resources we did not even think we had.

Courage can sometimes just be a manifestation of stubbornness. That’s not always smart.

A question that is often posed by the Psalmist to God: why don’t you do something? The believer always presents herself or himself as the loyal one. Why doesn’t God offer support in kind? The answer is that God certainly does … just not in an expected way. It seems to depend on human initiative and action. And yes, creativity.

As we read the infancy narratives, we may often wonder why God did not act in a more direct and clear way. Yet God acts through events and people.  Joseph was the man chosen by God to guide the beginnings of the history of redemption. He was the true “miracle” by which God saves the child and his mother. God acted by trusting in Joseph’s creative courage. Arriving in Bethlehem and finding no lodging where Mary could give birth, Joseph took a stable and, as best he could, turned it into a welcoming home for the Son of God come into the world (cf. Luke 2:6-7). Faced with imminent danger from Herod, who wanted to kill the child, Joseph was warned once again in a dream to protect the child, and rose in the middle of the night to prepare the flight into Egypt (cf. Matthew 2:13-14).

No hands, etc. but ours, eh?

When given the opportunity, evil always trips up on itself:

A superficial reading of these stories can often give the impression that the world is at the mercy of the strong and mighty, but the “good news” of the Gospel consists in showing that, for all the arrogance and violence of worldly powers, God always finds a way to carry out his saving plan. So too, our lives may at times seem to be at the mercy of the powerful, but the Gospel shows us what counts. God always finds a way to save us, provided we show the same creative courage as the carpenter of Nazareth, who was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting always in divine providence.

Is it true? I’d say we’re at a moment in the world where it seems as if the strong and powerful have sway. They certainly have the capability to destroy quite a bit of the modern way of life even if they stumble over themselves in fruitless wars, traitorous plots, and economic profiteering over the weak and needy. Yet we are still looking for a political savior, aren’t we? Not the man Jesus first encountered in his earthly life.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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