Saturday, 2 June 2018

Chartres 2018: Meditations (6)

Saint Joseph, Model of Fatherhood


Dear pilgrims,
Who, for you, is Saint Joseph? A secondary character, "transparent", insignificant? Or a compelling figure? And if you find him "secondary", ... then are we saying "too much" about him, in the Church and during our walk?

Now let's see together the place given to him in the Church... The Incarnation, the coming of God in Person to save the world, is realised within a family: the Holy Family; that is St Joseph’s first call on our attention. The Messiah promised to men is to be spring from the family of King David... That is St Joseph’s second call on our attention.

So he has an exceptional place! And the Church has understood that; she even "inserted" Saint Joseph into the Canon of the Mass, just recently.

Silent St Joseph? Yes, in words, perhaps ... But his life and his mission speak to us well! So let's listen...

Major ideas
Saint Joseph is ...
• The dream husband
• The father ‘who stands’ ...
• The good evangelical servant.


The dream husband... Saint Joseph model of spouses.
Let us not forget that Our Lady had made a vow of virginity; it was therefore necessary that her future husband should accept this wish and consent to it himself; a "Nazir", according to the Jewish religion.
Is such love, such a marriage possible? And what lesson do we draw from it? Well, true marital love is first and foremost the will to do the good of the other, whatever happens.

Joseph soon realises that Mary is pregnant when she returns from Elisabeth's house. Doubtless, both of them then experienced real pain at this stage of the Incarnation; Joseph did not know ... And Mary knew that Joseph did not know!

Yet Joseph seeks a solution that does not hurt Mary - and Mary wants Joseph to be enlightened so that he does not suffer to see her pregnant.

So, we can really say that he is the dream husband! What a lesson he gives to spouses around the world! To face all these unforeseen events at the beginning of his marriage and then - to remain just - to wait - to be silent but sensitive - never to be destabilised: what genuine nobility of behaviour towards his wife!

A father "who stands!" Saint Joseph, the model for fathers
Joseph is not "biologically" the father of Jesus. Yet he exercises true paternity with regard to Jesus:
• by giving him his Name, "Jesus" (which is the father's privilege among Jews).
• by organizing the life of prayer and the worship rendered to God by the Holy Family.

• by preparing Jesus for his "coming-of-age examination" at 12.
• by learning from Jesus that parents do not own their children, and the vocation of their children.
by receiving the obedience and respect that Jesus gives him.
• by transmitting to Jesus his knowledge and skills as a carpenter.
• by showing an example of respect for just laws, love of a job well done, calmness and
adaptation to the unforeseen and difficult of family life.

Just imagine... a trip in the middle of winter with a pregnant wife for the census - a flight abroad following an impending death-threat for Jesus - an active search for the livelihood of those entrusted to him...

Saint Joseph, the good evangelical servant
In our time, just as in former times, it can be tempting to live on "benefits," out of laziness, without facing work to provide for one's needs.

At the same time, we see real marvels, discoveries in the scientific, artistic, cultural, charitable spheres... Well... none of this was done without work.

Elementary lessons, but surely not useless:
• It is not work itself that stems from original sin, but what is painful in work.
• Work is noble because it associates us with the work of
God the Creator. He develops the talents received by each of us, he makes us "collaborate," work, exchange, communicate with the other; he promotes mutual help.

Saint Joseph had this spirit of mutual aid and service to his neighbour - he also had a sense of what was necessary, honest and appropriate gain - finally he had the spirit of detachment. All these qualities, once again, are acquired by... working.

In conclusion
Fervent devotion to Saint Joseph is certainly a protection against the threatening spiritual dangers in the world we live. St Joseph is silent because most of his life is turned inward, where God dwells, where he looks for us, and where he waits patiently. St Joseph is humble, he knows that everything he has comes from God and should not be wasted. St Joseph is quick to obey because he knows that God only wants our happiness: an endless happiness. St Joseph is chaste, he wants his body to be a good servant but not a tyrannical master. St Joseph works hard , because for him, to serve is an honour. The Blessed Virgin Mary found in St Joseph a loving and strong husband; Our Lord Jesus Christ found in him a vigilant educator; and the Church finds in him a powerful protector, the terror of the demons! Alleluia...

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