Don’t give up if you have failed. Failure is part of the journey.
This week we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It always occurs during Lent each year on March 19, and is a solemnity in the Church. Since it is a celebration, it is not a day on which we are required to fast or abstain. This “day off” from fasting, so to speak, is a good way to review how you are traveling through Lent so far.
Have you broken any promises you made? Are you finding that even only after two weeks of Lent you are finding it difficult and you want to give up?
For Our Lenten Promises, Look to St. Joseph
Let’s take a look at the true model of patience, trust and sacrifice, St. Joseph. We are honouring the man who trusted in God, even when he was facing shame over Mary being pregnant before they completed their marriage ceremony. The scripture reads…
When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; (MT 1:18).
St. Joseph was initially confused, and didn’t want to bring shame to Mary as this would bring scandal to her. He wanted to send her away quietly. We read in the gospel,
and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly (MT 1: 19).
How many times do we want to hide our own shame or feel embarrassed by our failures and mistakes? It is okay and natural to feel that way but the key is not letting that shame cripple you. We are to trust in God and not hide ourselves under a bushel. As Jesus directs us, let us be a lamp on the highest point.
When We Fail in Our Lenten Promises, We Must not Fear
When St. Joseph is about to leave Mary, God steps in through an angelic message,
But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1 :20 – 21)
There is so much to ponder here but I’d like to point out 3 things:
First, the opening line of an angel calls out St. Joseph by his name, thus reminding him of his ancestor King David. Joseph’s dad was Jacob, but the angel says the son of David, referring to the King as a reminder of the great family to which Joseph belongs.
Second, the angel’s words ”Do not fear” addresses the very thing St. Joseph was afraid of. The angel explains to St. Joseph that the Holy Spirit made Mary pregnant, and, although this reality is hard to explain, that there is nothing impossible to God.
Third, the angel says that Mary “will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The mission is given, and St. Joseph is assigned a part in it.
These three points give us hope and purpose, especially at a time when we want to give up.
The Lessons St. Joseph Has for Us this Lent
I know that I personally have been failing to fulfill all my commitments, especially with my current Exodus 90 journey and Lenten promises.
There are days I have not said my prayers or gave in to temptation and ate certain foods I promised to give up for Lent. I have failed in this sense and at times, I want to just give up.
St. Joseph has a lesson for all of us, and so let’s see now exactly how we are connected to him:
We are from a Royal Family
Just as the Angel reminded St. Joseph of the great family line he comes from, that message is also for you and me.
I am doing a number of studies around Sydney going through the famous Bible study by Jeff Cavins‘ ‘Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible’ and also the ‘Bible Timeline’ courses. He reminds us that we too are part of the story.
This is our family. We follow the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and this same God is the God of King David, our great King. St. Joseph is of the same line and we are now linked to St. Joseph, thanks to our family tree.
We Need not Fear
‘Do not fear’ is not only a message for St. Joseph but for us.
If you have failed in life don’t be afraid to let people know you have failed. If we keep hiding our shame, we will bottle it up, until the pressure increases and eventually becomes unbearable.
That’s the beauty of confession: we can let go of our failures by confessing them. We can allow God’s grace to transform us and we begin again.
Those who succeed don’t stop at one failure or even a million failures. Failure makes winners stronger. If failure was the end there would be no greats like St. Peter, St. Paul or St. Augustine.
The only true failure is to quit. Don’t quit! Keep pushing through because you will get there in the end. As St. John Paul II would say, do not be afraid!
We Must not Abandon Our Mission
This son that Mary is having is the Saviour. St. Joseph is part of that great mission, to save souls.
If he leaves now, then he abandons the mission. If you or I give up now, we will be abandoning our mission. We can’t lose sight of our mission to make disciples of all nations, and to participate in the salvation of souls, just as Jesus came to do.
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife.
Matthew 1:24 shows us that Joseph woke up and did what the angel of the Lord commanded him. This is also for you and me, to wake up and do what God is commanding from us.
Keep up the Lenten sacrifice and don’t give up.
What are you struggling with this Lent? Please comment below!