My Christmas started with a minor miracle. Really. Chalk it up to St. Joseph.
I am not inclined to pray to saints, even if legendary like Joseph and Mary. Blame it on my evangelical roots; I’ve a slight fear of diffusing my Jesus-focus and mimicking kowtowing brethren (‘I can’t go to Jesus without help…’ etc.). My credo: go boldly to the Throne (Heb. 4:16)! I think of some big old church whose Cruciform altar is nearly lost in a tangle of side chapels dedicated to various holy ones. Do saints clarify Jesus or obscure Him?
I was mildly annoyed by a couple of Polish Catholics at Marco and Ania’s wedding who gushed about St. Joseph. Enough already. Quietly obedient and protector of family. Check. Kept Jesus and Mary alive in flight to Egypt. Got it. Typically pictured as approx. 84-years-old. Chaste through old age.
But the Joseph depicted above the altar in the church where Marco and Ania married was virile, radiant in love for the Son whom he lifted high for all to see. He got under my skin a little. Joseph wasn’t competing with Jesus but championing Him. The Babe lit up His dad. Reflected glory.
Joseph goaded me to consider my family’s needs, especially Annette’s, who was not feeling so good at home and wishing her man was close by. I uttered a prayer: ‘Ok, pray for me, Joe; somehow extend your family mantle over mine.’
Hours later, I was stuck in the Munich airport, getting rolling reports of a delayed flight that would stall me in Chicago overnight and cut into Annette’s need for my help with grandkids early that day. I COULDN’T BE LATE. No way.
The whole flight I was strung tense, like a coil getting tighter and tighter. We landed with an impossible margin of 20 minutes to make my connection. That included clearing passport control, customs, taking a train to new terminal where an x-ray departure check awaited me, then a mile distance to gate.
Speaking in tongues (always), I invoked Jesus who gave me a pic of Joseph leading his family. I asked ol’ Joe to make a way for me to make my flight.
I don’t know how it happened. First out of the plane, I charged staircases, galloped through aisles, up escalators and down crowded Christmas hallways. I fell a couple times as I lost control of my bags. I blurted out: ‘Get out of my way! Thx!’ and ‘Joseph, do it for Annette’, a weird prayer that got scarier and louder as I raced the clock. At the last x-ray, I was the ass who asked everyone in line if I could go first. A first! I was happy to be THAT guy!
I sprinted that mile to my gate, just as it was closing. They had given up my seat but reassigned it for fear I would throttle them (kidding, kind of). I entered the cabin heaving, with stuff falling out of my bags due to my manic 20-minute miracle.
I wouldn’t have cared if I were naked. I saw Abbey (looking amused) a few rows back and declared to her (and all) ‘St. Joseph did it!’ I laughed and cried all the way to Kansas City. I marveled: Not only am I still a Jesus-freak, I am a freakin’ Catholic one! Show me Your friends Jesus so I can love and trust You more!