Journey With a Father’s Heart – Day 7

Day 7 – A Creatively Courageous Father (Part 2)

Excerpt from Patris Corde

At the end of every account in which Joseph plays a role, the Gospel tells us that he gets up, takes the child and his mother, and does what God commanded him (cf. Mt 1:24; 2:14.21). Indeed, Jesus and Mary his Mother are the most precious treasure of our faith.

In the divine plan of salvation, the Son is inseparable from his Mother, from Mary, who “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son until she stood at the cross”.

We should always consider whether we ourselves are protecting Jesus and Mary, for they are also mysteriously entrusted to our own responsibility, care and safekeeping. The Son of the Almighty came into our world in a state of great vulnerability. He needed to be defended, protected, cared for and raised by Joseph. God trusted Joseph, as did Mary, who found in him someone who would not only save her life, but would always provide for her and her child. In this sense, Saint Joseph could not be other than the Guardian of the Church, for the Church is the continuation of the Body of Christ in history, even as Mary’s motherhood is reflected in the motherhood of the Church. In his continued protection of the Church, Joseph continues to protect the child and his mother, and we too, by our love for the Church, continue to love the child and his mother.

That child would go on to say: “As you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).  Consequently, every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person is “the child” whom Joseph continues to protect. For this reason, Saint Joseph is invoked as protector of the unfortunate, the needy, exiles, the afflicted, the poor and the dying.  Consequently, the Church cannot fail to show a special love for the least of our brothers and sisters, for Jesus showed a particular concern for them and personally identified with them. From Saint Joseph, we must learn that same care and responsibility. We must learn to love the child and his mother, to love the sacraments and charity, to love the Church and the poor. Each of these realities is always the child and his mother.

Meditation

God trusted Joseph with his greatest treasures: his own Son made flesh and the woman he chose to be his mother.  The two purest beings to ever walk this earth were entrusted to his care.  Joseph himself was imperfect, flawed, a man marked, like us, by original sin.  Yet, his trust in God was so great that he accepted this mission with humility.  He did not stop to look at himself and his own insufficiency.  His attention was too occupied contemplating God and his faithful love to become caught up in navel-gazing.

With simplicity, Joseph accepted the mission that he was given, knowing full well that it was greater than he was.  He cherished the treasures entrusted to him and guarded them with his heart, body, and soul.  He safeguarded his family through the trials that assailed them, without protesting to God for failing to save them from suffering.  He walked in faith, not demanding explanations or shortcuts, but trusting in God to show the way.

As the Holy Father ponders in his letter, each of us is entrusted in some way with care for Jesus and his Mother.” “Every poor, needy, suffering or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person,” the Holy Father writes, “is ‘the child’ whom Joseph continues to protect.”  The poor among us are not an abstract social problem, a faceless group whose fate is to be resolved by government leaders or society at large.  They are not a problem to be solved, a plague to be exterminated, an unclean race to be avoided.  Each and every one of those suffering in our midst is Jesus, who personally identifies with every one of the least of our brothers and sisters.  And Jesus entrusts them to us, not to groups or institutions, but to each one of those who as a follower of Christ is called to be his hands and feet for others on this earth.  Jesus is present every way we might look, in every person in need around us.  How might we, like Saint Joseph, learn to embrace each person entrusted to us, be it only for a few seconds of our day, and safeguard them as if God himself had personally commended them to our care?

Questions for Reflection

  • When met with a need which is clearly greater than I am, where do I turn my focus?  Are my eyes set on myself and whether or not I am capable of shouldering all it might imply?  Or, like Saint Joseph, is my first thought to turn my gaze to God: to entrust the situation to his unfailing fidelity, to ask him to fill my heart with his love for the persons involved, and to unreservedly place my trust in him to show the way that he wishes to work in this situation?
  • How can I learn to be a “protector” of the Church as Saint Joseph was of Mary?  When I see human weakness or even sin in the Church’s members or leaders, is my attitude one that constructively builds up the Church or a destructive criticism that instead further tears her down?  Have I ever thought of entrusting that which is of particular concern to me in the Church to the special protection of Saint Joseph, who is the Guardian of the Universal Church?
  • Do I feel challenged by the Holy Father’s call to see “every poor, needy, suffering, or dying person, every stranger, every prisoner, every infirm person” as the living presence of the Christ Child in our midst?  When I come face to face with Jesus in the person of a broken brother or sister, am I capable of recognizing him, even when his face is disfigured by suffering and pain, or do I, instead, hasten to turn away?  Instead of avoiding the discomfort the Holy Father’s words might provoke in me, how might I grapple with them and allow them to challenge me?  How might I be called to respond to this invitation?

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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