March 19, 2020 by Jesse Lebus
St. Luke’s, friends and family:
It’s Thursday and we’ve landed on another feast day: St. Joseph. My prep this week has led me down a few rabbit holes, some of them enlightening and others, well…where do I start? I imagine that lots of you are aware of using a small statue of St. Joseph to aid in the sale of a home. It goes like this: if you want to call on Joseph (the patron saint of homes) to help sell a house just bury the statue upside down, near the for-sale sign, facing the house, and offer a daily prayer.
The statue, the prayer and detailed instructions can be purchased as a “St. Joseph Home Selling Kit” online. With the strain on local businesses I think people should order them from a local religious supply company. However, if you’re curious to know if it works, then you’ve got to go to Amazon and read the reviews.
I selected the most popular kit and as you’d imagine, the results are mixed, basically split three ways: it worked; it hasn’t worked (yet); it didn’t work. I climbed further into the warren, clicking on “Customers Questions & Answers.”
Q: Do we have to be Catholic? We are Lutheran. Will this still work?
A: I’m a Lutheran and it worked for me.
Q: The head broke off in the ground where I was burying it and I can’t find it. Will it still work?
A: You’d better ask a priest or a nun.
Q: Can St. Joseph be used for finding an apartment?
A: As I understand it, St. Joseph only handles real estate home sales.
If that’s the case, it’s likely he’ll be opening an office in Sea Cliff soon. Cue rimshot. There was one question that really triggered me, though:
Q: How accurate does the St. Joseph statue need to be to work?”
Cue facepalm. How accurate can any statue of a person from 2000 years ago actually be? I have a statue of Joseph holding the Christ child on my dresser. He has blonde hair and a blonde beard for crying out loud! My need to respond was overwhelming.
A: I am a faithful, practicing Christian. As the parent of two kids, I even have a small statue of Joseph and the Christ child on my dresser. It reminds me daily to be loving, diligent, humble and prudent. I'm letting you all know this so you don't think I'm just a troll... But the notion that any statue of a person from 2000 years ago might be an "accurate" depiction points to the absurdity of this product and practice. What I've learned from contemplating St. Joseph: faith removes fear and instills trust, the formula necessary to practice common sense.
Sure, the post lacked humility, maybe I threw too much shade, but folks need to hit the reset button sometimes. The little that we know about Joseph shows us that with faith we can respond to uncertainty, fear, threats from outside and doubts from the inside with surety of purpose. Faith is not a matter of superstition, the practices of which sell homes or shield bodies. Our faith restores a clarity of vision that allows Christians to act with common sense in the best interest of our neighbors.
That has implications for people trying to sell homes, for sure, but for people living through this pandemic, it means heeding the suggestions of trusted agencies and practicing social distancing. It doesn’t mean that we look out only for ourselves and I think we are beginning to get that.
In last night’s self-isolation monologue from his back porch, the comedian and television host Stephen Colbert (who also happens to be a devoted Catholic), offered a reflection of our country in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic:
"Everywhere you look, people are looking after each other. Getting food or cleaning supplies for their neighbors, regardless of what that neighbor's politics are. Democrat, Republican, socialist - it doesn't matter right now. We can still disagree about many things, but this crisis has driven home - literally, home - the truth that this is one great nation, united by our belief in, and our need for, each other."
We do need one another, we are interdependent. I am grateful that I can, with the available technology, communicate with you, worship with you and pray with you. Even if we should stay six feet from one another, we should also avail every resource and opportunity to stay connected. Below you will see that I am working on developing a rhythm of common prayer life. If you have any questions about these offerings. Do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours in Christ,