HOMILY OF FRIDAY 19TH MARCH, 2021
FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
ST JOSEPH, HUSBAND OF B.V.M (SOLEMNITY)
THEME: THE FATHERHOOD OF SAINT JOSEPH
By Revd Fr Michael Ogwuche, CSSp.
The fatherhood of Saint Joseph is a virtue worthy of emulating in our time where the figure of the father is disappearing. It is an imitating standard too in Christendom where fatherhood is a big problem as marriage and family lives are in crisis. St. Joseph a quiet, silent, innocent, obedient, loyal, humble, hardworking, provident, protective and loving father and spouse invite us to a profound reflection of fatherhood.
It is a challenge as well as an invitation all especially fathers of family and the Church (priests and pastors) to be like St. Joseph. It is also to sons in the family to grow up emulating St. Joseph. The mothers of the family should pray that their husbands, sons and priests behave and act like St. Joseph.
With the Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis recalls the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. To mark the occasion, the Holy Father has proclaimed a “Year of Saint Joseph” from today, 8 December 2020, to 8 December 2021.
We are all called upon to not just imitate St. Joseph, we are also encouraged to honour him and as well request for his blessed intercession in our Christian life and daily living.
The feast of today encourages us to review the role of St. Joseph in God’s eternal plan of salvation. This calls for an awareness of his practical actions towards the Blessed Virgin Mary and our Lord Jesus Christ. As well as his personality, virtues or qualities worth imitating.
FIRST READING: 2 SAMUEL 7:4-6, 12-14, 16
King David’s desire to build an eternal dwelling place or house for God was turned into an everlasting covenant and promise to make his house, his kingdom and his dynasty an everlasting one. That is, from king David’s offspring will come the universal spiritual King: our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, the two synoptic gospels of Matthew and Luke in the genealogical account of Jesus Christ included St. Joseph. Thereby link this everlasting Kingdom of King David through Jesus Christ to Joseph’s fatherhood and spouse of the Virgin Mary.
Psalm 89 reaffirmed this Davidic covenant when the psalmist reminds us that, “The son of David will live forever”.
SECOND READING: ROMANS 4:13, 16-18, 22
St. Paul helps us to remember that the salvific role of Jesus Christ has its root in the Abrahamic promise or covenant.
The righteousness of Abraham’s faith was built on a firm hope, grace and an unshakable conviction in God eternal promise. Hence, while Matthew began the genealogy of Jesus Christ from Abraham, Luke on the other hand began with God, Adam and traced through Abraham to Joseph and Jesus Christ.
God’s fidelity to his promise and covenant is seen in all this righteous of faith through Abraham.
THE GOSPEL: MATTHEW 1:16, 18-21, 24
It is so amazing and humbling at the same time, that such an important figure like St. Joseph in the salvation plan of God is very vague in the gospel’s accounts. Yet, he was very instrumental to the fulfilment of God divine plan of Salvation.
Matthew gave us the inner struggle of Joseph with information on Mary’s conception. How humble and prudent he was and wanted to go about the separation before the Angel of the Lord convinced him otherwise.
ST. JOSEPH IN THE HOLY BIBLE
Saint. Joseph in the Holy Bible, we have the description of St. Joseph only in the Gospels of Mathew and Luke. They present him as Joseph, the just man, the dreamer, and the silent saint who was the custodian and protector of Jesus and Mary, always doing the will of God.
THE VIRTUES OF SAINT JOSEPH
Biblically, Saint. Joseph never spoke a single word in the gospel. However, his actions and responses to God’s injunction were swiftly, fully and obediently. Here are some characteristics of St. Joseph.
1. He came from a generation of greatness and humbleness, of saints and sinners, of obedient and disobedient, righteous and unrighteous men and women who strived to do God’s will.
2. The just and righteous man– Don’t just follow rules, but commit to doing what is good. Especially the Will of God in all circumstances.
3. He is the mystical dreamer or visionary who communicates intimately with God. A friend, God invited to collaborate in his divine plan of salvation.
4. The silent saint and a man of self-effacing who live the fruit of silent in prayer and living a practical life of action with a sense of urgency even at personal inconveniences.
5. The custodian and protector of Jesus and Mary always looking out for those whom God has put in your care.
6. A diligent, responsible, and hard worker who demonstrates to us the dignity that lies in labour. As well as resist the temptation to cut corners or taking laziness to live divine providence or miracle. He did not only do the work God has given but he also taught God, Jesus Christ the craft of carpentry. He was a provident father.
7. He was the chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A man of sanctity who strive toward holiness by cooperating with the grace given him by God. He realizes that the gift of self is greater than mere physicality.
WHY WE HONOUR SAINT JOSEPH AS THE PATRON OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH AND SPIRITUAL MODEL OF ALL CHRISTIAN ESPECIALLY CHRISTIAN MEN AND FATHERS.
1. He is the Patron Saint of Workers. As men and women work takes up a great portion of their lives. Often we struggle to work in a way that honours God. Saint Joseph can teach us how to work well in a dignified way
St. Joseph is also good to invoke if you are having difficulty finding a job. He was commissioned to provide for the Son of God, so he fully understands the pressure men face to provide for their families.
2. His Intercession is Powerful. He is the mystic friend of God who had an intimate connection with him in silence and through his only Son: Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. He has a special relationship with the Most Holy Trinity, especially he is very close to the Son whom he nurtured, protected, guided and taught handcraft of carpentry. He is also very close to the Blessed Virgin Mary whom he cherished, protected and accompanied faithfully to do the Will of God the Father.
3. He is the Models Fatherhood for Us. God the Father chose St. Joseph from all men to be the foster-father of Jesus. That truly says something about his character, for he was entrusted with leading, providing for and protecting the Son of God and God’s greatest creature, Our Lady. Joseph faithfully served the Holy Family and protected them from danger so that they could fulfil God’s mission.
He was not absentee father showed up and go off at will from the lives of their children. He was there at all times of Jesus’ life to the end. He was silent but a very active father.
Saint Joseph taught Jesus in his humanity how to be a man. No doubt he taught him how to be a faithful Jew, as well as the trade of carpentry.
He models well for us fathers how to be the spiritual leaders of our families. How to give our spouse and children the most precious gift of ever-presence in their lives. How to be an exemplary model to our male children to be God-fearing; prayerful, supportive to our wives, hardworking, and above all respectful towards women. Like St. Joseph, we are called to show the love of God the Father to our wives and children.
To priest and religious men and women a model of humility, self-effacing, service and a total donation of self to cooperating fully with God’s grace and plan for human salvation through his Church. St. Joseph loved and continues to love Jesus Christ all ramifications including his mystical body the Church today.
4. He was an obedient man. Every time God asked him to do something, Joseph was eager to say yes. Whether that was taking Mary as his wife, going to Bethlehem for the census, or fleeing with his family to Egypt, Joseph always followed God’s will immediately. In an age where we are told to do things our way, Joseph is a great reminder that true greatness is found in following God’s will, not our own.
5. He was a man of silence and prayer. We never hear a word from St. Joseph in the Bible for he was a man of great silence. Because of this silence, he was able to hear God’s voice and discern his will for the Holy Family. In an age of noise and many words, Joseph reminds us that if we wish to hear God’s voice, we must quiet our hearts and enter into the silence.
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.