Archbishop Cushley has highlighted the quiet strength of St Joseph as a model of imitation for Catholics.
In his homily at Mass for the Feast of St Joseph he says his acceptance of the will of God along with the Virgin Mary, "ensures that God’s great plan of salvation will be fulfilled."
Homily - Feast of St Joseph, Spouse of the Virgin Mary
My dear friends, a very happy feast day to you!
Today we celebrate the Feast of Joseph, in a year dedicated to him by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
The Pope was inspired to write a letter to accompany this year, Patris Corde ('with a Father's Heart'), which I recommend to you. Also, on this, the fifth anniversary of his other letter Amoris Laetitia, the Holy Father has also decided to launch a year on the basis of it, entitled The Amoris Laetitia Family, which will lead up to next year’s World Meeting of families in Rome.
You may also have seen that here in Edinburgh we composed and published our own St Joseph Family Prayer Book, for use in our diocese, especially in this time when we are unable to come to Mass. Let me recommend it to all of you.
Devotion to St Joseph and curiosity about him has certainly been around a long time. We know that ancient Christians wanted to know more about Jesus and his early life and that led to a curiosity about St Joseph. You’ll notice what I said there: curiosity about Jesus led to curiosity about St Joseph. This is true about both Mary and Joseph.
We are Christians; by definition, we are focused on Christ; we want to know the Lord better, and in doing so, we are naturally drawn to Mary and Joseph.
As to Our Lady, we know many things about her through the Gospels, how she talked, how she prayed, her relationship with God and with her son, and they have led to a great affection for her through the centuries and the generations. But the details concerning Joseph are few and far between.
This leads to a great temptation – to fill in the blanks and even to exaggerate the little we do know when it comes to Joseph.
So, our best guide to St Joseph and to why we have grown over the centuries to love him is to look at what is actually there in the Scriptures. And the passage from the Gospel of Matthew that we hear today tells us a lot, although in quiet a short space.
Today (Mt 1:16,18-21,24) we hear a conversation between an angel of the Lord and Joseph. Now, the angel says, “Joseph, do not be afraid; take Mary home as your wife; her son is from God; you shall give him his name, Jesus; and he is destined to save God’s people”.
In hindsight, we know that all of this is about to take place. We know that Joseph will not be afraid; that he will accept Mary’s conception of Jesus; and that he will put God’s plan into action. We notice in particular that God gives him the duty of naming the child – the father’s duty – but that God names Jesus, as God is the true father. But Joseph is deputised to act by God Himself. This is, after all, the Son of God that we’re talking about.
What we also notice here is that Joseph is completely silent. We must presume he articulated some kind of reply, but we’re not told if it was in actual words. But what does happen, is that he does the will of God. Matthew says, “And he did as the Lord commanded him”.
Without fuss, without a ton of words, he accepts the will of God for him, for Mary and for Jesus, and he makes sure it happens, as God wills.
And this is the great example of Joseph: he loves the Mother of God, he loves Jesus perfectly as a father, and he ensures that God’s great plan of salvation will be fulfilled.
Joseph is a man of faith; he is a man of few words; he listens for the will of God to be revealed to him; and he acts without fuss to fulfil God’s plan for the protection, the safety, the happiness and the salvation of all whom he loves.
This is an example of quiet, manly faith, for all of us to imitate, but especially in the family context.
May St Joseph, the great and noble patron of the first domestic church, the Holy Family, protect us always with his prayers and example.
Have a happy feast, and keep each other safe!