Pope Francis has recently announced that this year will be the Year of St. Joseph. To mark this special occasion, the Holy Father also issued an Apostolic Letter, entitled Patris Corde (“with a Father’s Heart”) on the same day in dedication to the Foster Father of Jesus.
In his apostolic letter, Pope Francis beautifully reflected on the qualities of Saint Joseph. In the eyes of the Pope, St Joseph is an extraordinary person and the pope invites us to grow in our relationship with St Joseph, learning from him and striving to be more like him.
In reading Pope Francis’s apostolic letter, it has helped me to be more in touch with many virtues which shined forth from on the extraordinary life of St Joseph: his humility, his righteousness, his faith, his fear of the lord, his obedience, his chastity, his willingness to be of service to God. Interesting, all these virtues shine forth from the life of St Joseph without him saying a single word.
The silence of Joseph allowed God to speak to him. In silence, he learned to trust God and be obedient to whatever God asked of him regardless of the outcome. In silence, St Joseph learned to “let go and let God”. That is for me inspiring but also a challenge.
Reflecting on his life, I would imagine St. Joseph when he was engaged to Mary, would have had it all figured out that he would spend the rest of his life happily with Mary. And then life happened. Mary was pregnant with a child that was not with him. Not only that, but even when he figured out a good way out of this mess, deciding to divorce Mary quietly to protect her from shame and humiliation, life happened again. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him and asked him to take Mary and the unborn child into his home.
Even though, in the Gospel, we don’t hear of Joseph’s doubts or questions, I imagine he had them. Joseph probably felt devastated, humiliated, and even betrayed. Joseph probably thought that all he got in life was a broken dream.
But it is in the midst of this broken dream, in this experience of betrayal that God revealed to him what he saw in life was not all there was…that in the midst of this human mess, God invited him to rediscover a larger and greater purpose for him, and through him, for the world.
In order to do that Joseph had to be able to let go of his deepest fear and the need to control life so as to allow God into his heart, and listen to what God really and truly required of him. And in that openness to God, Joseph discovered his true identity by cooperating with God’s plan for the salvation of all.
Therefore, St Joseph is a great model for our spiritual life, precisely because of his great silence, his unfailing devotion to duty and most inspiringly, his courage to step aside and let God be free to act in his life.
It is my hope that we will take advantage of the upcoming year, “the year of Joseph” to grow in our devotion to him. May each one of us strive to imitate his virtues and call upon his helps in all our needs.
Have a blessed week,