(Click here to read Part One)
Jesus the Provider
Despite being poor, uneducated, and unconnected, Jesus somehow seems richer than Caesar. He does not take and redistribute; He generates and multiplies. In a material sense, He multiples the loaves, increases the catch of fish, and even generates a money from a fish to pay His taxes to the needy government. Similarly, He provides spiritually by feeding the soul of His Bride and Her many children.
After His resurrection, Jesus’ apostles imitate Jesus’ role of provider. They give of their own abundance, performing miracles, creating communities, sharing the gospel, and constantly working. The Acts of the Apostles and the letters of St. Paul distinguish how the disciples did not ever beg for help, but allowed people to help them, since they provided something far greater than money could buy. They were more than self-sufficient; they were world-sufficient.
Most men will at least recognize the need to provide for themselves and others, but they often miss the key idea behind this role. Like Jesus, a man must convert his inner wealth (his intelligence, his energy, his experience, etc.) into outer wealth in order to provide for others. A man who simply starts with wealth or receives wealth unfairly will soon degenerate into parasite, the opposite of a provider. Without developing the capacity to develop and transform inner wealth, they will not only deplete whatever fortune they have, but will then deplete the wealth of others.
This phenomenon manifests itself collectively as socialism and individually as a moocher who lives off his wife or parents. Communities that lose their willingness to work, to grow, to go without luxuries and take risks cannot resist the allure of a government that promises to redistribute money from wealth creators to everyone else. They work off the worldly principle of division and subtraction and not the Christian principle of multiplication and addition. Predictably, these communities sooner or later become depleted, as history repeatedly attests.
On a more personal level, a man who cannot provide in any form and asks others to provide for him and others will not able to shake off that natural feeling of shame, no matter how just the cause. He will resent himself and others because he downgraded himself from a resource to a burden, and everyone around him knows it. If he looked at Jesus, Who bore the burdens and became poor in spirit so that others around Him could become rich, He would not only find the will to provide, but also a fundamental truth about his manly nature.
Jesus the Son
Many Catholic men naturally gravitate towards St. Joseph, especially fathers, and rightly so: Joseph modeled the virtues of manhood for his son Jesus. Joseph himself led, protected, and provided for his wife and child. Unlike Jesus Who expands these roles into cosmic proportions, Joseph’s example is clear and simple, causing most men to look to him instead of Jesus as their model.
Fortunately, those who truly follow St. Joseph’s as the paragon of manhood will grow to love and follow Jesus as Joseph did. And they will also learn to appreciate Jesus’ role as a son.
Since it naturally implies the other roles exclusive to manhood, the role of a son differs from that of a daughter or a wife. For this reason, Jesus constantly speaks of sons (not children) and their father (not parents). In His parables and in His own life, Jesus teaches that a good son obeys and glorifies his father; by contrast, the bad son, the unmanly son, disobeys his father and glorifies himself.
As with the other manly virtues, Jesus embodies this on both a material and spiritual level. On a material level, Jesus demonstrates His obedience to God in His moral perfection and uniting His will to the Father’s, even unto death: “Not my will, but thine be done.” In doing this, He also glorifies God the Father, blesses his mother Mary, and applies the lessons of his foster father St. Joesph. He never downplays His heavenly origins for His Church, but builds up His Church and raises Her to His Father. He does not denounce His earthy origins, but raises them to veneration through His filial love. Like leaven, true sonship raises; it does not take down.
Men today can learn from this principle of sonship. Their manhood does not start when they have a child, as many sometimes think, but when they reach the age of reason and obey knowingly. A son’s obedience demands the acquisition of virtue in order to become a man who can help his father and bring him honor. The perpetual adolescent who cannot protect, provide, or lead will only pull his father down emotionally, materially, and spiritually.
As one might imagine, the absence of good sons also leads to the absence of good fathers. The crisis of fatherhood afflicting the world today started as a crisis of sonship. Younger men lived off the masculine virtues of their fathers, both spiritual and physical, just as the Prodigal Son lived off his patrimony and sinned against both God and his father. As with the Prodigal Son, the only way back is repentance, which restores ones status as a son and a man rather than a disappointing wastrel stuck in childhood.
Jesus the Man
The world today demonstrates how the loss of Jesus’ masculinity can lead to the loss of His disciples’ masculinity. Turning the Son into a universal symbol onto which society can project all their ideologies and fashions has led so many of the Church’s sons to contradict their own manly nature. They come to see leadership as oppression, protection as aggression, providing as pillaging, and sonship as childishness. Thus, they extoll the bully, the brute, the predator, and the lecher as “alpha males” while they dismiss saints and their holiness as effeminate and pathetic.
The vivid reality of Jesus overturns this kind of thinking and reveals the truth behind such men: they are not men at all, but false men. Therefore, He calls on men today as He called His first disciples, to give up their error, to embrace their manhood, and find joy living in the Truth.