By Fr Ben Limsuan SVD (Philippines)
In 1889 Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Quamquam Pluriesin which he urged Catholics to pray to Saint Joseph, as the patron of the Church in view of the challenges facing the Church.
March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary, a principal feast day in the Western Christianity. Pope Pius IX proclaimed St. Joseph as the patron of the Universal Church in 1870. He also declared St Joseph as patron of Christian at the moment of death because of the tradition that he died “in the arms of Jesus and Mary”. The example of St. Joseph as a father of the Holy Family and the favors he received from Jesus and Mary seem to me a good start of our reflection and prayer on how to celebrate his feast day worthily and fruitfully.
The role of St. Joseph as the guardian, companion and ruler of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the child Jesus is definitely part of the Divine Plan of God for the salvation of humankind. God choose him and given him all the divine assistance to be a partner of the mission of Jesus on earth especially on Jesus’ early years as a child and his growing years before He started his 3 years of public life culminating on his death on the cross. The hidden life of 30 years of Jesus is no less important that his public life. Among the virtues that stand out in the life of St Joseph is his deep trust and obedience to the plan of God.
In the gospel of St. Matthew, St. Joseph without hesitation and doubt immediately followed the direction of an angel in a dream:
1. “To take Mary as his wife “(Matthew 1:20–21).
2. Again in a dream to take the family to Egypt to escape the massacre of the innocent children under the command of Herod, the ruler of the Roman Province of Judea. (Matthew 2:13)
3. After some period of time in Egypt, after Herod’s death and to avoid Herod’s son an angel told him to take the Virgin Mary and boy Jesus back to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19–20).
We picture St. Joseph with full dignity as a father but assisted by God bravely walk all the way, wherever, no matter how uncertain and difficult is the way, obediently carrying out the direction given to him by the angel. He was walking by faith and not by sight!
Though life maybe uncertain in the future and fearful at times for us, we pray to the Glorious St. Joseph the grace to toil, in the spirit of penance, in order to atone for our sins but most of all to obtain this deep trust in God and joyful obedience to His will who will never abandon us to the end.