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Doing Justice to St Joseph

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 11 months ago

Beyond Superstition: Doing Justice to the "Just Man"


Original version drafted in 1998.  Recent Wall Street Journal article, When It Takes a Miracle To Sell Your House, substituted in current working draft below, which you may help edit or comment on by clicking on the headers above.


Other recent articles and talk show references to the practice of burying on St. Joseph include:

NPR's Talk of the Nation: Selling Your Soul to Sell Your House


When another blog post, article, or talk show happens in your local housing market, you can add it to our interactive map:  "St. Joe 2.0:  Geography of Faith."  Your prayer experiences are welcome there as well, particularly if you are facing foreclosure, or selling a home at a loss and need support.


CURRENT WORKING DRAFT:  All Saint's Day, November 1, 2007


Beyond Superstition: Doing Justice to the "Just Man"


In the past, articles like the Wall Street Journal's "When It Takes a Miracle To Sell Your House" would have hit my sacrilege hot button sending me into a fit of holy anger. Now, I see the playful human interest story as a timely opportunity to invite believers and non-believers to draw inspiration from this guardian of the Son of God during this, and important transition time in the local, national, and international housing market.


First, it’s important to recognize that Joseph was a real person, a Jewish carpenter (like my future son-in-law), who took his wife and son to Bethlehem to participate in the first census of the whole world under Caesar Augustus. Joseph inserted the name of "Jesus, son of Joseph of Nazareth" into the official registry of the Roman Empire. "This registration," according to Pope John Paul II, "clearly shows that Jesus belongs to the human race as a man among men, a citizen of this world, subject to its laws and civil institutions." (link to source)


Beyond his historical identity, what do we know about Joseph of Nazareth? What, if anything, does this man--who Catholics over centuries have revered as the model or patron saint of families, homes, carpenters, the church, justice, purity, workers, husbands, fathers, dreamers, faith, and the interior life--have to say to modern man and to the real estate industry in particular?


Like theologians over the centuries, we know very little about Joseph because no words are attributed to him by any of the Gospel writers. But some would argue we can still surmise who he is by his actions. What do Joseph’s actions tell us?


• When Joseph learned that his soon to be wife, Mary, was pregnant, he did not appear on a TV talk show to judge or condemn her, but "being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly" (Mt. 1:9).


• "... as he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream" (Mt 1:20), instructing him to fear not, and to take Mary into his home. (Under Jewish custom, marriage took place in two stages: first, the legal marriage took place, then, only after a certain passage of time, the husband brought the wife into his own house.) Joseph heard the word of God and acted on it. Without words, his actions speak of his courage, obedience, responsibility, and faith.


• Joseph endured great hardships to obey the civil law and the word of God. He and Mary traveled to Bethlehem to be counted in the census while she was pregnant. Later, in response to another angel in a dream, he fled into Egypt, where the Holy Family remained until Herod’s death to avoid Herod’s slaughter of male children in Bethlehem.


The recognition that Joseph consistently listened for God’s word and acted upon it has, over centuries, caused St. Joseph to become the patron saint of many things and model of many virtues. Some still serve as models to popular culture, and others provide challenges or inspiration to real estate professionals:


• As a model of Faith, Joseph is the embodiment of Nike’s popular slogan, "Just do it." The gospels speak exclusively about what Joseph "did" revealing his capacity for making decisions based on faith.


• As a model for Families, Joseph would be disheartened by the problems of society which can be traced to the decline of the family—violence, drug use, crime, teen pregnancy, school drop outs, etc. As we work with families to purchase houses, Joseph would challenge us to be mindful of a higher calling—the calling to help families build homes and foster communities which promote the common good.


• As a model for Fathers, Joseph is a source of inspiration to some of the new responsible fatherhood movements like The Promise Keepers and the Million Man March. He would mourn the widespread acceptance of abortion as he mourned Herod’s slaughter of "Holy innocents" in Nazareth—an event the Catholic church observes on December 28.


• As a model for Husbands, Joseph would be heart broken by the divorce rate and rising tide of poverty and homelessness among families, largely because of the absence of fathers and husbands.


• As Patron Saint of Workers, Joseph would have deep compassion for Generation X, the next generation of home buyers. This generation, which is growing up with jobs which do not pay the rent let alone the mortgage, has returned to live at home with their parents in record numbers.


• As a model for Dreamers, Joseph would inspire real estate professionals —particularly those working with a new generation of immigrants, many of whom are exiled from their homelands as he was—to encourage families to act on their dreams of home ownership and a better life.


• As model of the Interior life, Joseph would remind real estate professionals who might be tempted to engage in unethical business practices, like undisclosed dual agency, that certain things should remain confidential.


• As a model for Guardians, Joseph would remind real estate professionals, that they are guardians and must protect their clients and act in their best interest at all times. He would remind agents of their sacred trust: "Thou shalt not put yourself or your financial interests before your client or above the law."


• As a model of Justice, what would this man—who is called "just" by the Gospel writers because of his obedience to civil law and the word of God—say about an industry which routinely ignores mandatory disclosure laws, which has abrogated common law so it can practice dual agency without fear of being sued, which exhibits cartel-like resistance to discount pricing and alternative services like buyer brokerage, and which, according to consumer advocates and more recently the Wall Street Journal, overcharges consumers by $10 to $20 billion annually?


Would this just man only intercede only on behalf of sellers to get faster sales and higher sales prices as the article and web site suggests? Why not protect or help buyers get lower prices?


And what about those who cannot afford housing at all? Wouldn’t this just man, whose son was born in a cave in Bethlehem, be more likely to intercede on behalf of the homeless or those living in substandard housing (some 1.43 billion people, or 25% of the world’s population, according to Habitat for Humanity), or welfare mothers on waiting lists for public housing, or political refugees (22 million people, or one out of every 255 people on this planet, according to the United Nations High Relief Commission), or a continent of AIDS orphans in Africa (14 million now with 40 million projected by the end of the decade), rather than interceding on behalf of sellers?


As Patron Saint of the Universal Church, Joseph remind us—real estate professionals and consumers alike—that God acts in the world when someone takes responsibility, like St. Joseph, to do God’s will. He invites us to be responsible; not only responsible to the law and to our clients, but for building a city of God where families and communities are strong and housing is available and affordable to all.


Don’t wait for his feast day to be inspired by this patron saint of families, homes, carpenters, the church, justice, purity, workers, husbands, fathers, dreamers, faith, and the interior life. Pay homage to St. Joseph year round by the care and attentiveness you bring to your families and your acts of courage, justice and love to build a better world.


As believers and non-believers, we should "Just do it."


Your comments and edits are welcome on this wiki, or privately via email.




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