Saint Joseph is a teacher of prayer, a promoter of family vocation and guide for all Christians. This is the reflection of Fray Jaazeal Jakosalem.
St. Joseph’s identity is identity of presence. Little is known of him in the Biblical narratives, and yet the ‘missing link’ is supplemented by our rich faith tradition. More importantly, his life played an important role in the incarnation of Jesus. Recall your ‘knowledge’ of Joseph. Can you describe him? Can you picture him in your family? Can you find his influence within your family?
St. John Paul II said of him: “St. Joseph’s example transcends all individual states of life and serves as a model for the entire Christian community, whatever the condition and duties of each of its members may be…” (Guardian of the Redeemer, 1989)
St. Joseph is our Teacher of Prayer
He is a teacher-of-life. He taught life as a school of prayer. In the formative way of prayer, showed in the way he fulfilled his mission to take care Jesus as his own. His work is his prayer, his diligence to find means for a better living, was his psalm of life.
Imagine how our modern day “fathers” sacrifice their lives for our families. Working day and night to provide and accompany our mothers in building a better family. St. Joseph worked like them, he faced the may challenges of life earning little and yet willing to sacrifice. Pope Francis said of him, by quoting the prayer “whose power makes impossible things possible… the power of Saint Joseph… He never, never said ‘no’. We must take courage from this.”
“In the Gospels, St. Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!” (Pope Francis) All these became Jesus’ inspiration, and truly formed him ‘more’ in his mission. St. Joseph is a silent-influencer of prayer from within his family and of the family’s neighbors in Nazareth.
Joseph as a Promoter of Family Vocation
Family Life is a vocation, a new way of re-thinking the image of the Holy Family. Every christian family now faces the challenge of modern-day social diversions; of broken families, of misunderstandings; the many woundedness in our families, of our own making, our failure of misplacing our priorities in our family life. On this, St. Joseph reminds us of the importance to infuse real love within and amongst the members of the family. It entails a lot of sacrifice and of intense dedication of our ‘Joseph’ in the family; together work with the ‘Mary’ of the home; share both the blessings and sacrifices.
God incarnated in a human family, by a divine choice, Mary and Joseph agreed to embrace the prime vocation of becoming instruments of God’s love for humanity. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins… When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (Matthew 1:20-24) The image of the Holy Family evokes not a special chosen family, but of the image of a family rooted in love. Our ideal family must not be a projection of our wants and desires; rather, real family exists in the socially-challenged areas. Not in those empty homes, but where love is among parents and children. “Mary and Joseph loved each other with a tender marital love. Joseph also loved Jesus as his son. The spousal and paternal love of Joseph was a gift of the Holy Spirit to help him live on earth as if he were already in heaven — a gift given, in large measure, to help Christian men be chaste and tender spouses and fathers. Stated simply, St. Joseph is the model of all husbands and the exemplar of all fathers.” (Fr. Frederick J. Miller, St. Joseph, A Father of Fathers)
St. Joseph our Guide
We honor St. Joseph’s life because he shared a caring life for Jesus. “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” (Lk 2:41) This phrase is from Mary, explaining in totality the fatherly love of St. Joseph. Our fathers in our homes, often display a passive and yet caring attitude in our ‘growing years’ or for some they have spoiled us a lot; but surely, we all agree, that our Josephs are the most sensitive and caring… “He helped him grow and develop. So he looked for a place for the child to be born. He looked after him, helped him grow, and taught him to work: many things… in silence. He never took possession of the child for himself. He silently let him grow.” (Homily of Pope Francis, December 18, 2018). He guided Jesus as a father, and accompanied him to grow as a person.
This is the reflection of Pope Emeritus Benedict the VI on St. Joseph: “I wish to extend a particular word of encouragement to fathers so that they may take Saint Joseph as their model. He who kept watch over the Son of Man is able to teach them the deepest meaning of their own fatherhood. In the same way, each father receives his children from God, and they are created in God’s own image and likeness. Saint Joseph was the spouse of Mary. In the same way, each father sees himself entrusted with the mystery of womanhood through his own wife. Dear fathers, like Saint Joseph, respect and love your spouse; and by your love and your wise presence, lead your children to God where they must be (cf. Lk 2:49).” (Benedict XVI, Cameroon, 2009)
Where are the fathers today? Sadly, they are facing the realities of hard life, we can find them in beer houses, in drug dens or many of them died with failed dreams. Values in the family are failing, so is the modeling among children. But there is still hope, we have the duty to accompany and bring healing to our fathers who are getting lost and losing hope. As children and wife, let us bring our Josephs in our home—return the love. They deserved to be forgiven.
St. Joseph is guiding us to embrace humility as a method of life. “St. Joseph should be marked by the virtues of: “humility, which draws the benevolence of the Father; intimacy with the Lord, who sanctifies all Christian work; and silence and hiddenness, together with zeal and hard work to fulfill the Lord’s will.” (Pope Francis)
Let us make this day, a special day for a man who lived his vocation in prayerfulness, dedication, humility and silence.