In 1870 St Joseph’s was declared Patron of the Universal Church. Pope Francis has declared this year a “Year of St Joseph”, celebrating the 150th anniversary. “Patris Corde” is the title of the Pope’s letter and he speaks of St Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, and as a “father in the shadows”.
Pope Francis uses St Joseph to show us the importance of the ordinary people in everyday life who, though far from the limelight, show patience and give hope every day in our Covid-19 pandemic world. These wonderful people, he says, go almost unnoticed but are a discreet and loving presence.
The Pope speaks of Joseph as a father in obedience to God, and refers to the “Fiat” that he gave to God, just as Mary did: “Let this be done to me as you will.” St Joseph would have taught his son to be a good boy, as a father does, both of them obedient to the heavenly Father.
“In our world where psychological, verbal and physical violence towards women is so evident”, Joseph’s love of Mary is an inspiring example. He puts her first, trusting in the Lord. His spiritual path is not one he would have chosen but he accepts what God has chosen for him.
The carpenter of Nazareth, explains the Pope, was able to turn his life towards God in a complete act of trust in divine providence and had to deal with family problems in a way that he would never have expected. More: St Joseph is “the patron of all those forced to leave their native lands because of war, hatred, persecution and poverty. Every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person is the child Jesus whom Joseph continues to protect.” From St Joseph “we must learn to love the Church and the poor.”
Joseph was a carpenter who earned an honest living to provide for his family and thus teaches us the value and dignity of good work – that everyone has the right to have. Work is one of the ways of sharing in the work of salvation, developing our talents and abilities and serving society. In our work we co-operate with God and in a wonderful quiet way become creators of the world around us. Joseph is an inspiring example.
“Fathers are not born, but made,” says Pope Francis. “A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for and love that child.” Children need fathers who will encourage them to be capable of making their own decisions, freely living their own lives, guided and loved. St Joseph was such a father.
Pope Francis shares with us a prayer he says every day: “My beloved Father, all my trust is in you. Let it not be said that I invoked you in vain, and since you can do everything with Jesus and Mary, show me that your goodness is as great as your power,” and adds another prayer for us to share: “Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to you God entrusted Jesus; in you Mary placed her trust; with you Christ became man. Blessed Joseph, show yourself a father to us and guide us in the paths of life. Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage, and defend us from every evil. Amen.”
We shall celebrate the Year of St Joseph in God’s blessing.
(13th December 2020)