Dear Fathers and Brothers,
On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis declared this “The Year of St. Joseph” through December 8th, 2021. The Holy Father also published an apostolic letter about Jesus’ beloved foster-father entitled “Patris Corde” (or “With a Father’s Heart”).
Traditionally the month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph. It is in this month we reflect the life and spirituality of St. Joseph. “The Year of St. Joseph” invites us specially to follow this saint closely in responding to the call of God.
There are no recorded words of St. Joseph in the entire Bible. There are words in the Old Testament for the great patriarch that we can apply to St. Joseph. But in the New Testament there are no recorded words for St. Joseph. He’s always there, though, as a silent presence. In fact, even his death is wrapped in silence.
When Gospel said, Joseph was the “husband of Mary” (Mathew 1:16), it says clearly what he was as a person, and who was committed to God and his plans. This enables us to learn from St. Joseph to order our ways of life in following Jesus.
The Gospels tell us that Joseph was a “just” man. That means that he was faithful. He was faithful to God and said yes to God’s plan for him to be Mary’s husband and Jesus’ foster father. He was faithful to Mary, caring for her while they waited for her baby to be born. He was faithful to Jesus, protecting him from all possible dangers.
John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation “The Guardian of the Redeemer” calls Joseph the just man. What does that mean? It means that he was a holy man. A righteous man. A man of honesty, integrity, and virtue. St. Joseph is the greatest and holiest saint after the Blessed Mother herself. In fact, some of the Doctors of the Church said that there was no grace ever given to any of the Saints (except Mary) that was not given to St. Joseph as well.
I used to think what could be the place of St. Joseph in all event of La Salette. Is any of Mary’s words, presence, or her gestures would have an influence of St. Joseph her husband. One immediate thought that strikes me is the words of Mary regarding Sunday observance. "Six days have I given you to labor, the seventh I have kept for myself, and they will not give it to me.
Blessed Mother was insisting
on rest and of the sanctification of the Sunday, the day which God has reserved
to himself. As a Jewish woman she grew up by fulfilling the obligation of Sabbath
a day reserved to God alone. Her husband Joseph, being “a just man” in every
sense also observed Sabbath in its real spirit. A carpenter who earned
livelihood for Jesus and Mary, Joseph committed himself in every sense for God.
His commitment to
God helped him to commit himself wholeheartedly to Jesus and Mary.
The lessons learned from St. Joseph is an inspiration for all who seek the way of the Lord. He stands as an icon who challenges us in our love towards God and man.
Let me conclude my letter with a prayer addressed to St. Joseph by Pope Francis.
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy, and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Fr. Sajive Maliakal MS
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