Can you imagine how Saint Joseph felt when he was unable to find a suitable place for his wife to give birth to her child? How would you feel if your wife was about to give birth and the best you could do for her was a barn full of animals?
For Saint Joseph, this had to be the most humiliating experience of his life. Did he get angry? Did he become defiant and lash out at God? Did he blame the government? Or did he simply accept what had happened to him as being a part of God’s plan for him.
Now imagine that you are the Blessed Virgin Mary. Your divine son is 12 years old. As you do every year, you travel with your husband and son to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When it’s time to begin your journey to return to Nazareth, you follow the custom of splitting up. You travel with the women while your husband travels with the men. Both of you assume that your son is traveling with the other person.
On the evening of the first day of your journey, you reunite with your husband and you find out that your son is missing. You don’t know if he is alive or dead. You remember that after your son was born, Herod ordered his army to find and kill him. At your son’s presentation, Simeon warned you that a sword would someday pierce your heart.
You and your husband frantically search for Jesus. Your suffering is so intense that you refuse to stop and rest. After three days, you finally find him in a temple, sitting among some teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
For the Mother of God, the loss of her son had to be the most humiliating experience of her life. What mother would be so careless that she would lose her son? Did she get angry? Did she become defiant and lash out at God? Did she blame the custom that she was bound to follow? Did she blame her husband? Or did she simply accept what happened as being a part of God’s plan for her and her family.
Now imagine that you are Jesus Christ. You’re 33 years old. It’s been three years since you performed your first miracle. At that time, you weren’t ready for public life, but your mother asked you to help out at the wedding at Cana by providing wine for the reception.
Before you performed your first miracle, you worked as a carpenter, a trade that you learned from your foster father, Saint Joseph. Now, at the age of 33, you are kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating blood. A group of men show up and one of your handpicked apostles, Judas, identifies you as the one who should be arrested. Later in the evening, another one of your handpicked apostles, Peter, denies that he knows you.
The next day you are taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. To pacify an angry crowd, Pilate sends you away to be tied to a pillar and brutally whipped. You are beaten so badly that the flesh on your shoulders, back, chest and legs is torn open.
A crown of thorns is placed on top of your head. The thorns are pounded into your skull. You immediately experience a piercing headache. You feel as though you are going to pass out. You can feel the stinging in your eyes from the blood that is dripping down your forehead. The men who are torturing you are taunting and ridiculing you.
As you are being escorted back to Pilate, you are spit upon by men you’ve never met. After Pilate gives his permission for you to be crucified, you are forced to carry your cross to Calvary. When you reach your destination, you are nailed to the cross. While you are hanging on the cross, you are again taunted and spit upon by strangers.
For the Son of God, the betrayal, denial, scourging, crowning, taunting, and crucifixion had to be the most humiliating experience of His life. Did he get angry? Did he become defiant and lash out at the men who were responsible for his suffering and death?
Did he have a right to lash out against those men? Of course he did. But he chose not to. He knew what his father’s plan was for him and he accepted it with grace and humility. His parents did the same thing when they accepted God’s plan for them.
Last week, I wrote about a devout Catholic man who decided that he no longer needed to follow the rules of the Catholic Church. He became angry after he was humiliated by a priest who made some inappropriate comments about him to some people that he knew. Instead of imitating the humility of our Lord, our Lady, and Saint Joseph, he became angry and defiant.
When God allows an individual to be humiliated, there are only two paths the individual can choose to follow: the path of humility or the path of pride and defiance.
When the path of pride and defiance is chosen, it is accompanied by anger, revenge, hatred, and an absolute refusal to forgive the person or persons who caused the humiliation. When the path of humility is chosen, it is accompanied by an acknowledgment and acceptance of complete and total dependence on God. It is also accompanied by gratitude, forgiveness, love, and happiness.
If God allowed Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to be humiliated, why would he spare you and me from being humiliated?
We’re not the only ones who are tested with humiliations. After God created the angels, they were put to a test. Lucifer and his followers chose the path of pride and defiance, which was followed by anger, revenge, hatred, and revenge toward God. Saint Michael and his followers chose the path of humility, which was followed by gratitude, forgiveness, love, happiness, and an acknowledgment and acceptance of complete and total dependence on God.
There will be occasions during your lifetime when you will be utterly humiliated. When that happens, you will have to choose between two different paths — the path of humility or the path of pride and defiance.
You should pray every day to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph that you will make the right choice each time that you are humiliated.