In the midst of the Lenten season we have a special Solemnity on March 19th, which is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. It’s one of those rare moments when the Church encourages us to break the Lenten fast and celebrate this holy man of God.
Not long after Pope Francis was elected to the office of St. Peter, he added the name of St. Joseph to the Eucharistic Prayer, after we commemorate the Blessed Virgin Mary:
“Have mercy on us all, we pray, that with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with blessed Joseph, her Spouse, with the blessed Apostles, and all the Saints who have pleased you throughout the ages, we may merit to be coheirs to eternal life, and may praise and glorify you through your Son, Jesus Christ.”
As we pray the Novena to St. Joseph I am drawn to reflect on the men of God in my life and the men of our parish, and to pray for them in a special way. It seems in many ways that manhood is under attack in our society. Hollywood gives us the image of man as rebel, angry, sex fiend, drunkard and party animal. The politically correct blame men for many of the problems in our present culture. Where do men discover their true identity?
Saint John Paul wrote an Apostolic Exhortation on Joseph, the Guardian of the Redeemer. Saint John Paul writes:
“Joseph was a man of faith and courage. Along with loving his betrothed, he loved His God courageously. He had a close, intimate personal relationship with the God of His Fathers. In fact, this just man was, in a sense, the last Patriarch, completing the lineage. Through his response of faith, He would receive the great gift promised for all men and women and hold in His arms the One that His fathers had only longed to see. God's messenger, an angel, visited Joseph in a dream. He was ready to receive. He was disposed not only to the encounter but to the invitation it presented to pour himself out in love and for Love. He heard the message and, without hesitation, did what the Lord commanded! This is, in a real sense, Joseph's Fiat, his Yes, his exercise of human freedom to advance God's eternal plan. How refreshing such manly faith and courage are in an age filled with cowardice and rebellion.”
“Joseph was a humble man. There was not an ounce of false bravado or machismo in this servant of God. Named after the great Patriarch who was sold into slavery in Egypt; he bore the name with similar humility. As the Old Testament Joseph embraced his lot, rejecting the temptation to bitterness or victim-hood and actually came to rule Egypt, forgiving the very brothers who had sold him into slavery; so too this son of the Covenant embraced the One who would establish the New Covenant on the altar of Calvary.”
“In so doing, Joseph is a model to all men who choose to walk the way of the cross. Joseph emptied himself of self - and became filled with the love and life of God. He gave himself fully to God through accepting his unique and specific vocation as a guardian of the Redeemer. The child Jesus, God in the flesh, was given to Joseph. A Carpenter, Joseph taught this child how to work with wood. That was, after all, what he had to give. During these so-called hidden years" Jesus was with Joseph and Joseph was with Jesus.”
Jesus learned to work and received from his foster father, Joseph, a work ethic, that we can follow throughout Jesus’ life and ministry. He learned perseverance, hard work, selflessness and humility. In an age that has lost its way, given over to the selfish pursuit of illusory pleasure, Joseph should again be lifted up as a model, particularly to men who desire to follow Jesus Christ.
Jesus has entrusted the work of that mission to all men who accept the invitation to empty themselves in order to be filled with the very life and love of God and then be used in His redemptive mission for the world. Through the Fount of living water called Baptism, he invites each one of us into His new family, the Body of His Son, the Church. He still gives His message to men who, like Joseph, hear and then choose to exercise authentic manly virtue and act out of courage. He still invites men to turn the ordinary into extraordinary through cooperation and participation. He is truly looking for a few good men like Joseph who will work in the workshop of the world that he created in order to recreate it anew in His Son. In this age so desperately in need of men of courage, we need to turn to this man's man named Joseph. We need to follow his example by courageously, humbly and faithfully loving Jesus Christ.
Joseph is our teacher and shows us the way, a true Man's Man, calling all men to follow Jesus. Teaching us that actions speak louder than words
"His is a silence permeated by contemplation of the mystery of God, in an attitude of total availability to his divine wishes. Let us allow ourselves to be "infected" by the silence of St Joseph! We have much need of it in a world which is often too noisy, which does not encourage reflection and listening to the voice of God." ~~Pope Benedict XVI, December 18, 2005
I thank God for the godly men in my life who encouraged and prayed for me, but most of all, gave me an example of Christian manhood. Please join me as I pray the Novena to St. Joseph, for all the men of our parish that they would be godly, humble and courageous witnesses of the Gospel.