Thursday, 14 June 2018

Chartres 2018: Meditations (12)

St Joseph in Civic Society


Dear pilgrims,
When we learn about the saints we often find that what we love most about them is their realism, their balance between "a head in Heaven and feet on earth!" In this regard Saint Joseph is an excellent role model.

He is a moral man, a virginal spouseand foster father,” “head of the Holy Family”, “craftsman”, and contemplativeguardian of the Mystery.

But he is also ... a Nazarene, son of the earth, homo politicus. Saint Joseph is rooted in a civic society, in the history of his people. He belongs, like each of us, both to his celestial country and to his earthly one.

So let’s rediscover this little known message of Saint Joseph.

Main Points

  • Saint Joseph rendered to Caesar what was Caesar’s and to God what was God’s. 
  • Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus, gave Our Lord His familial identity on earth. 
  • Saint Joseph, guardian of the civil law, natural and divine.
  • Saint Joseph, patriot in his fatherland.
  • Saint Joseph, son of the Church.
  • Saint Joseph, servant of the common good.


Saint Joseph rendered to Caesar what was Caesar’s and to God what was God’s.
He obeyed the law of Caesar Augustus (the census). On a deeper level he obeyed the Jewish Law of Moses (The Presentation of the Child in the Temple).

Foster father of Jesus, he gave Our Lord His family identity on earth.
Saint Joseph had the responsibility of conferring the name of Jesus, which the angel had requested of Our Lady (and certainly, there would have been no dispute over which name to choose for the new baby!) It was under his guidance that Our Lord became an adult man and affirmed himself little by little as just that; true man and also true God, the only Son who had to be about the affairs of His Eternal Father.

Saint Joseph, guardian of the civil law, natural et divine.
He is par excellence "a just man;" He lives the Law as gospel, he seeks the path that brings law and love into a unity. And so he is inwardly prepared for the new, unexpected and humanly speaking incredible news that comes to him from God.  (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives).

Saint Joseph, patriot in his fatherland.
Saint Joseph, like Jesus in later life, was attached to his country in every ‘fibre of his being.’ He received his heritage and patrimony with great piety, he guarded it and he passed it on. He loved its history, and he shared in its joys and sorrows. And what a country! The "Land of God," the Holy Land!  The Church never decries a man’s love for his country; it is a duty (under the 4th commandment), an extension of familial love. This is an important truth that is often either ignored or misunderstood!

Saint Joseph, son of the Church.
The Israel of the Old Testament is the figure of the "new Israel of God", the Church. Saint Joseph is Her first witness. With the unfaithfulness of the old Israel, he sees the advent of the Church that will be founded by Christ. He is there at Her beginning. He is among Her first members, from the start, at Bethlehem and at Nazareth.

Servant of the common good.
"He was a committed man" (Paul VI). Committed to serve the highest cause: the Reign of God ! "Committed, absolutely, to the compromise of his honour, his tranquillity, his happiness, his royal dignity...he committed himself without a backward glance.... He was a committed layperson; he didn’t live his consecration to the reign of God as a priest, by carrying out religious actions, but he lived it through his family life and his professional life, similar to our own, except that he had the immediate benefit of Christ as his adopted son. In civil life, he also held a role; that of a craftsman in the society of his time." Joseph was the father of fidelity (civil and religious) in a situation where his faithfulness was put to the test. The right of entry into the Heavenly City is bought by blood and tears, whether the martyrdom be bloody or not: "He that loved father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Mt 10, 37). "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14, 26).

Dear pilgrims, let us imitate Saint Joseph in serving the Church, without neglecting our natural communities. He is our example in this regard. His way is, according to Paul VI, "a path that God has drawn for our footsteps."

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