Mortification of the flesh with an eye toward eternal bliss should be a key takeaway for us as we consider the lives of the saints. To become a saint, one must have demonstrated heroic virtue. Would we not consider it heroic, based on our fallen inclinations, to “take no account of what pleased the flesh or flourished in life” (1,22) here in this mortal coil for the sake of life eternal?
Were there two greater saints than the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph? They gave their entire lives after betrothal to the raising of the God-Man, focused entirely on Him. We know Jesus’ mother never sinned so she certainly had no inordinate desires in this life. A similar case could be made for St. Joseph. While he was not conceived without original sin, it seems unlikely that he ever sinned from the time he came to know Mary. They had their challenges from the time of the miraculous conception (see today’s Gospel Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a), to the difficult circumstances around their Son’s birth, to raising a family as poor folks, to the Finding in the Temple, to losing Joseph to death, to Mary witnessing the rejection and ultimate death of her little Boy. A sword through her heart was promised when Jesus was only days old (Lk 2:35); she experienced the full blade at the Cross. Through it all, aspiring to eternal things — with the Eternal Word with them daily all the while — was their focus.
It is good for us to look to the Holy Family for the prime example of family life. Living for each other, helping lead the family to heaven, and doing the Heavenly Father’s will, were all they aspired to. With their focus on God they found everything else falling into place. We would be wise to have the same approach thus guaranteeing the same results.