Journey With a Father’s Heart – Day 2

Day 2 – A Beloved Father

Excerpt from Patris Corde

The greatness of Saint Joseph is that he was the spouse of Mary and the father of Jesus. In this way, he placed himself, in the words of Saint John Chrysostom, “at the service of the entire plan of salvation”.

Saint Paul VI pointed out that Joseph concretely expressed his fatherhood “by making his life a sacrificial service to the mystery of the incarnation and its redemptive purpose. He employed his legal authority over the Holy Family to devote himself completely to them in his life and work. He turned his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of himself, his heart and all his abilities, a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home”.

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Joseph saw Jesus grow daily “in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favour” (Lk 2:52). As the Lord had done with Israel, so Joseph did with Jesus: he taught him to walk, taking him by the hand; he was for him like a father who raises an infant to his cheeks, bending down to him and feeding him (cf. Hos 11:3-4).

In Joseph, Jesus saw the tender love of God: “As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him” (Ps 103:13).

Meditation

“In Joseph, Jesus saw the tender love of God.”  What a profound statement.  Jesus, the Son of God, God himself made man, experienced the tender love of his Father through a mere mortal like ourselves.  Through his humble, unassuming gift of self to the Holy Family, Joseph, the carpenter, faithfully reflected the loving face of God to Mary his wife and Jesus his son.

As baptized Christians, each of us is called to be a bearer of the divine to others.  God’s very love is present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  In our body and soul, we are living images of God in the world.  God speaks to us in all of our humanity, including through our bodily senses, and so also wishes to pour out his love for others through our bodily gestures of love and service.

The Holy Father writes that Saint Joseph “turned his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of himself, his heart and all his abilities.”  He used his authority as head of the family not for his own gain, but “to devote himself completely to [Mary and Jesus] in his life and work.”  By doing nothing other than living out his vocation, “he placed his life at the service of the entire plan of salvation.”  His greatness was found in his simple, loving fidelity to God’s will through the often very ordinary tasks of everyday life.

Questions for Reflection

  • Do I realize that as Joseph was for Jesus, I am called to be the reflection of God’s unconditional love to those I encounter?  Do others experience the tender love of God through their encounters with me, or could they be in danger of developing a somewhat distorted understanding of God’s image through their dealings with me?  Is there one way in which I feel called to be a better mirror of God’s loving gaze towards others today?
  • Joseph “employed his legal authority over the Holy Family to devote himself completely to them in his life and work.”  When I am called to exercise authority, be it in the home, in my workplace, or in my apostolate, does my focus sometimes subtly become myself and how am I performing, or is it on true selfless service to those I am called to lead?  How might I learn to lead more like Saint Joseph?
  • Simply by living out his vocation as spouse and father, Saint Joseph “placed his life at the service of the entire plan of salvation.”  By doing nothing other than living out his vocation.  No need to lean on titles and positions.  No need to flaunt accomplishments and achievements.  Just living out his calling with all the love of which his heart was capable.  Do I believe that my small “yeses” to the simplest details of my vocation take on transcendent value when offered to God?  How can I imitate Saint Joseph’s example by making a selfless oblation of myself in even the most unromantic aspects of my calling?

Prayer

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.

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