By Christian Rada
In Pope Francis’ new apostolic letter Patris Corde, he expounds upon the qualities of Saint Joseph’s fatherhood and how his fatherhood was an icon of God, the Father’s heart for us, His children. During this Advent season and during this Year of St. Joseph, may our hearts be led to reflect upon the Father through the fatherhood of St. Joseph!
One of the most astounding and mind-boggling works of the Eternal Father was to send His Only Son Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and to allow His Son to become a little Baby, who was vulnerable, weak and totally dependent upon a human mother and a human father, Mary and Saint Joseph. Indeed, Saint Joseph was and always will be the earthly father of Jesus! This was the will of the eternal Father for all eternity. And of course, Saint Joseph was the best of all earthly fathers. He is an example for all men, especially fathers.
Saint Joseph was a faithful son of the Eternal Father. God reveals in Saint Joseph that a father is a man who is obedient to God in an uncomplicated, sacrificial, and steadfast way. Saint Joseph was a faithful and loving spouse. Joseph trusted in the angel’s words to him and lovingly accepted Jesus as his own son. He provided a protective home for Mary and Jesus and accepted his call to be a husband to Mary and a father to the Son of God, even when he believed himself unworthy to do so. “Joseph’s attitude encourages us to accept and welcome others as they are, without exception, and to show special concern for the weak, for God chooses what is weak” (PC, 4).
Saint Joseph was present to his child and to his wife. God entrusted the Holy Family to Joseph and worked through his creative courage to guide and protect the Holy Family. “Arriving in Bethlehem and finding no lodging where Mary could give birth, Joseph took a stable and, best he could, turned it into a welcoming home for the Son of God come into the world” (PC, 5).
Saint Joseph was willing to sacrifice for his family. Work is a means of participating in the work of salvation. Joseph’s work as a carpenter provided a means for the Holy Family to thrive and to remain hidden in Bethlehem. Joseph taught this work to Jesus. “Saint Joseph’s work reminds us that God himself, in becoming man, did not disdain work” (PC, 6).
At the conclusion of Pope Francis’ letter, he added a prayer to St Joseph, which he encourages all of us to pray together. Let us pray for the grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to God’s commands
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.