“Life is difficult.” These words are as true today as they were for Joseph when he found out that his betrothed was pregnant. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in here” (Mt 1:18-24).
These words are true for countless young men and women today who find themselves in a similar situation. The good news is that the young women can usually find someone to counsel and guide them. The bad news is that similar counseling and support are not always available to young men.
Tad is a counselor in a large city. He works for a state agency. His salary is barely enough to cover his living expenses, but Tad loves his job and even a tightening of the agency’s budget isn’t enough to make him consider going into another line of work.
Tad works primarily with teenage boys and it’s not unusual for his clients to admit to having fathered a child. Usually this information is transmitted in something of an offhand manner, sometimes even tinged with a bit of pride.
But there’s rarely any sense of responsibility taken or ongoing relationship with the child or the mother. It’s Tad’s job to try to make the young men realize what it means to father a child, not just biologically, but emotionally, psychologically and even spiritually.
Bev works with Tad. It’s her job to try to get the young men into some kind of job training so that they can begin to assume financial responsibility for their actions. Since many of the teens have not even finished high school, Bev encourages them to consider working toward a GED so that they can go on to find a job and increase the possibility of providing a home for their new family.
Mary was a young, pregnant, unmarried teenager. Societal norms of the day would have supported Joseph in whatever decision he made in dealing with the situation. Tad and Bev are working to help young men and women to make wise decisions in similar situations. You see, angels are still among us. It’s just that sometimes they’re very hard to recognize.
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister in the Diocese of Green Bay.