By Jonathan Ruano

My birthday is just around the corner and it has led to me reflecting on my upbringing and my parents. It’s also made me realize the blessings that they are in my life. I wasn’t always a fan of them, especially when I was young, but now in retrospect I appreciate all they have done for me.

As a child and into my early teenage years my dad whooped my butt twice

just thinking about it stings a little. Growing up in El Salvador it was more socially acceptable than in the States. I was never in danger or beat to the point of concern but the lessons I learned on those two occasions still are with me today.

The most memorable occasion my mother and I had a very heated fight. I was a rebellious teenager with no regards of the power that words contain. I said so many hurtful things to my mother and she tried to slap some sense into me.

Mid swing I stopped my mother’s hand.

I had left her in tears and looking back, I can say that I'm ashamed of my actions that day. When my father came home from work he was told of that day’s events. He knocked on my door, and when I opened it I could see he was beyond disappointed, almost disgusted at my actions. Yes, he gave me two nice hits with his belt but more lasting were his wise words.

“Your mother is meant to be loved, she is the most important woman in your life, no one will love you like she does and if you treat her this way how will you treat your future wife? You need to be better son.”

My father wanted me to become a good man, a righteous man.

In today’s Gospel, Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant. This must have been a surprise to him since she was “betrothed” to him yet they didn’t live together. This was a crime punishable by death but Joseph takes another option,

he "quietly divorces her" to not bring Mary shame. 

Matthew calls this choice by Joseph a “righteous” one. Jacob, Joseph’s father, must have been a good role model. Jacob must have taught Joseph how to care for and love others. This is why Joseph rejects the norm and, instead of humiliating Mary, chooses to divorce her quietly. Like my father, Jacob took the time to teach Joseph a better way. These lessons stay with Joseph and, later, I assure you he passed them down to Jesus. I often forget that Joseph is Jesus’ father and that he had a strong impact in the way Christ was raised.

The Jesus I know is a reflection of the Father and also of his adoptive father Joseph.

I also know that Jesus is also a reflection of his mother Mary. Her love, compassion, trust, and faith are all traits that Christ posses and learns from Mary. She is the most influential woman in Christ’s life as we know by the wedding at Cana when she nudges him to begin his ministry. As vital as Mary was to her son, so has my mother been for me. Mary and Joseph were a blessing to Jesus as my parents have been to me. So as my birthday approaches I give thanks to God for my parents. 



Jonathan is a campus minister at Gonzaga College High School in Washington DC. On his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and friends and if it's around a meal even better. He is a huge sports fan, soccer being his favorite. His faith is the cornerstone of his life and tries to live by the philosophy "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam", for the greater glory of God.

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