Summary: Couples, Pt. 8

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The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has kept track for many years the cost of raising a child through its survey of 12,880 families and 3,395 single-parent families on the cost of a child’s housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, child care, education and miscellaneous goods and services, but not including the parent’s time costs, forgone earnings and career opportunities. The estimated expenditure on a child in 1995 for a two-child middle-income couple that makes $33,700-56,700 (before tax) is $7,610 for a 0-2 year-old toddler to $8,710 for a 15-17 year-old teenager.

The expenditure adjusted to 2003 with an annual 3.1% inflation concludes that a middle income married couple with two kids will likely spend $9,510-$10,500 on a child. More interestingly, USDA concludes that a child born in 2003 who will reach 17 in 2020 will likely cost lower income families that make below $25,700 a cool $172,370, middle income families making $25,700-54,800 an arm and a leg at $235,670, and the highest income families making over $54,800 a whopping $344,250! (Funds for a new house!)

Joseph, like any young man his age, had dreams and ambitions of his own but willingly surrendered or relinquished his dreams for a higher calling – to be father of the Messiah. Joseph was the father figure in Jesus’ life but, more often, he was the forgotten important parent figure in Jesus’ life. In fact, he does not have a word to say or a conversation to share in the Bible. His presence at Jesus’ birth and the reception of the shepherds or the magi was not stated. Artists and Apocrypha writings have painted the picture of Joseph as an old man marrying the young Mary. It took a long time for scholars and historians to give Joseph his rightful credit.

Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, a religious-art specialist affiliated with Washington’s Georgetown University notes that early Christian art sometimes omitted Joseph from the Nativity. When present, “he’s either disinterested or separate, a doddering old man with a bald head or gray beard, a stock character,” she says. The Rev. Michael Morris, an expert in art and Catholic theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif., says Joseph was occasionally painted sleeping through the event. This may have been a nod to his prophetic dreams, but Morris notes that even among Catholic clergy today, “if someone says he’s going to take a St. Joseph’s meditation, it jokingly means he’s taking a nap.” (“Father and Child,” Time 12/19/2005)

Mary’s name looms large in history and in the Bible, but not Joseph’s. Most commentators believe that Joseph had died by the time Jesus made his ministry debut. One can say Joseph did not live to see his dream and the angel’s proclamation come true. His dreams, however, were not as important as God’s role for him and God’s delight with him.

What kind of a father figure is God pleased with? What is the father’s role and responsibility in raising a child? What is one’s position, part and purpose in life? How can you rise to the occasion and fulfill your God-given potential?

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