Encouraging Male Participation in the Life of the Church Lessons from St. Joseph, Matthean Intensification, and Korean-American Catholicism

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Hoon Choi

Abstract

The Annunciation to Joseph, vis-à-vis Mary, is an example of how many people overlook male religious experiences that are already present within the Gospel and Catholic traditions. The Gospel of Matthew, in which we find this story of the Annunciation, starts with a genealogy in order to direct the reader to the point that the Jesus movement was not only a continuation of the received (Jewish) heritages but also an intensification of that received traditions (“you have heard… but I say to you…”) in the grand scheme of the salvation history. St. Joseph’s situation, with his irregular family and expecting a baby out of wedlock, was outside of the norms of the time. However, God’s will and the new law override these perceived deviations and intensify the expected norms to give new meanings in the context of the New Law. In light of potentially being ridiculed, ostracized, or persecuted, St. Joseph responds by risking his life to be true to his vocation as a father, husband, and disciple. That history continues today. Religion is often perceived as feminine in the American society. This is particularly important for KAC men as their participation and involvement continues to decline in recent years. They can mirror the attitude, characteristics, and actions of St. Joseph (Three J’s: an attitude of a Jangin (Tekton), Jasang-ham, and Jashin-gam) to discover their own religious place within Korean American Catholic churches. This method may take them beyond Joseph’s stories to the Catholic liturgical tradition and, indeed, Jesus himself. In the process of their own version of the intensification of today’s received norms, however, they may also need to risk being ridiculed, perceived as deviant, and even being ostracized by some members of their own community and/or society at large.

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