Home Economics

By Brian Caulfield

The market plunges. Investments tank. The future fades to gray.

It’s a great day to be a father.

Real people are losing real money, and that’s nothing to take lightly. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that God called you to be a father only in good times. Remember your wedding words: In good times and in bad, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.

A wise old priest once remarked that most of the couples he prepared for marriage over the course of 40 years heard only one part of the promise: good times, richer, health!

But as St. Teresa of Avila noted, we are always living in dangerous times.

I am speaking to myself also when I say, put thoughts of mortgage, investments and 401k aside for one moment and think of Joseph and Mary – and don’t romanticize their situation. Picture them making the very long trek on foot and donkey from Nazareth, where Joseph had a secure job as a carpenter, to Bethlehem, the town of his ancestors. Mary is pregnant, almost full term. The road is hard, steep and exhausting.

Why are they traveling? The emperor has decreed a tax, the government has reached its hand into the lives of the people, both great and humble, and Mary and Joseph are caught up in this historical moment. Not even the Mother of the Redeemer and her husband are spared the negative effects of government decisions.

Surely Joseph must have thought: What has happened to that wonderful dream, when the angel told me that Mary was pregnant with the Messiah? Cannot God pave the road a little smoother for the birth of his Son?

We know how the story goes. The Birth of the Messiah, the Flight into Egypt to escape “Herod’s jealous general doom.” Times were tough, even aside from the weather, the food and the lack of proper plumbing.

I recount the biblical narrative to highlight the role of Joseph as the model of the good father, the father who lived up to his vocation. No word of his is recorded in the Gospels, yet he is a central figure because he ACTS.

The angel says “Go!” and he goes. “Flee with the child” and he flees. “Return” and he goes back to Nazareth.

Let us not think, as we look on bleak financial times: If only God would come, things would be easier. God did come, and to all appearances, things got more difficult. Joseph left his shop to carry the Christ Child in his arms across the desert, up the hills, into dark valleys.

Christ has not come for us to make money, or to have security (or securities) and boom times. God is a refining fire who will cleanse us of our sins so he can present us as a “pearl of great price” to the Father in heaven. He calls us to repentance in good times and in bad, and usually it’s in bad times that we look for him more ardently, and listen.

Let us work hard, of course, to make the money we need to support and protect our loved ones. But let us love not the money, but the ones God has given us. Our wife, our children, our families – our greatest assets.

Hold them close.

Brian Caulfield is editor of Fathers for Good.


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