No matter who we are or what we do, most of us, even secretly, like to hear words of praise and appreciation. We like to be patted on the back and made a fuss of. And how many of us would actually turn away from a compliment rather than receive it—even if with a bit of embarrassment? There is something in the way we are made that makes us happy to be recognised for a job well done. Some people go out of their way to seek recognition. Only then does it become a problem when receiving recognition becomes our primary goal instead of knowing in our hearts that any job well done is meant to give glory to God.
Now, contrast the disciples in today’s gospel with the witness of our holy protector Saint Joseph. Here was a man who truly did welcome a child in God’s name—and with great humility and openness. And never once did Saint Joseph seek praise for his calling. Never once did he ask, “What’s in it for me?”
So how did he do it? Certainly not by human strength alone. Saint Joseph embraced not only God’s plan for his life but also the divine grace he needed to fulfil his vocation. Imagine being entrusted with the Son of God. Joseph must have spent hours and hours in prayer just to keep his heart and mind fixed on this awesome task.
What a lesson for us. Joseph was just an ordinary man, but he was able to do the thing God asked because he remained close to him. If Joseph had clung to his old plans for his life, or his old ways of thinking, he might never have been able to say yes to God.
Our Lord wants us all to answer God’s call with the same faith and trust that Saint Joseph had. It can seem difficult if not impossible when we look with human eyes—just as the disciples envisioned their calling in human terms of prestige and greatness. But if we hold firm to the truth that Our Lord is with us and wants to give us every grace to succeed in our vocation, then we can move mountains. God needs only an open heart and he will fill it to overflowing.