March is dedicated to devotion to St. Joseph
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, The month of March is dedicated to devotion to St. Joseph. Let us ask St. Joseph to defend and help us on our path toward Heaven and to grant us a love for Jesus and Mary like he has in his heart! This Sunday we celebrate the 5th Sunday of Lent. I share with you a reflection on St. Joseph. I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week: “St. Joseph: The season of Lent is interrupted by the Solemnity of Joseph, Husband of Mary (March 19). With the exception of Our Lady, there is no greater saint in Heaven than St. Joseph. This feast originated in the fifteenth century and was then extended to the whole Church in 1621. In 1847, Bld. Pius IX named St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. St. John XXIII had St. Joseph’s name included in the Roman Canon (of the Holy Mass). The promises of the Old Testament were realized in Jesus by means of St. Joseph: The Lord has put His faithful servant in charge of His household. (Entrance Antiphon: Luke 12:42) The household referred to in Entrance Antiphon for the Solemnity of St. Joseph is none other than the Holy Family of Nazareth. God entrusted this treasure to St. Joseph, His faithful servant, who dedicated his entire life to their care. The Lord’s household also can be understood as the Church, which likewise looks to Saint Joseph as a guardian and patron. The First Reading brings to mind the ancient promises made by God to His chosen people, which were then passed down from generation to generation: the coming of a just and powerful King, the Good Shepherd Who will lead His flock to verdant pastures (Ex. 34:23), the Redeemer Who will save His people. (Gen. 3:15) In this passage from the second book of Samuel, God announces to David that the Messiah will arise from his descendants. The Messiah will found an everlasting kingdom. It is through Joseph that Jesus is the son of David. Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies made from the time of Abraham. (Second Reading, Rom. 4:18) With the Incarnation, the ‘promises’ and ‘figures’ of the Old Testament become reality: places, persons, events and rites interrelate according to precise divine commands communicated by Angels and received by creatures who are particularly sensitive to the voice of God. Mary is the Lord’s humble servant, prepared from eternity for the task of being the Mother of God. Joseph is the one… who has the responsibility of looking after the Son of God’s ‘ordained’ entry into the world in accordance with divine dispositions and human laws. All of the so-called ‘private’ or ‘hidden’ life of Jesus is entrusted to Joseph’s guardianship. (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, 15 August 1989, 8) The Gospel of the Solemnity of St. Joseph places a special emphasis on the fact that St. Joseph was a member of the House of David: Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. (Matt. 1:16) St. Joseph is the Patriarch of the New Testament. Here was an ordinary man to whom God granted extraordinary graces. St. Joseph was to fulfill a most singular mission in the salvific design of God. He experienced indescribable joys along with the trials of doubt and suffering. We recall his perplexity at the mystery of Mary’s conception, at the extreme of material poverty in Bethlehem, at the prophecies of Simeon in the Temple, at the hurried flight into Egypt, at the difficulties of having to live in a foreign land, at the return from Egypt and the threat posed by Archelaus. St. Joseph proved himself always faithful to the Will of God. He showed himself always ready to set aside his own human plans and considerations. The explanation for this remarkable fidelity is that Jesus and Mary were at the center of St. Joseph’s life. Joseph’s self-giving is an interweaving of faithful love, loving faith and confident hope. His feast is thus a good opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the Christian calling God has given each of us. When you sincerely desire to live by faith, hope and love, the renewal of your commitment is not a matter of picking up again something neglected. When there really is faith, hope and love, renewal means staying in God’s hands, despite our personal faults, mistakes and defects. It is a confirmation of our faithfulness. Renewing our commitment means renewing our fidelity to what God wants of us: it means expressing our love in deeds. (J. Escriva, Christ is Passing By, 43) We ask the Holy Patriarch to help us to fulfill the Will of God in everything. We pray that he will show us how to live out our commitments joyfully and without reservations. Our example will enlighten many others as to the true pathway to Heaven. The fidelity of the Holy Patriarch to his vocation: Come, good and faithful servant! Share the joy of your Lord! (Communion Antiphon: Matt. 25:21) St. Joseph would have heard these words of our Communion Antiphon upon his arrival in Heaven. One day the Lord will say these blessed words to each one of us if we persevere in our Christian vocation. This will happen despite our many stumbles and falls because we shall have had the humility and the courage to begin again. Fidelity to the Lord is what gives meaning to our lives, no matter what our age or personal circumstances. We know that our earthly happiness depends upon our faith. St. Joseph had his share of difficulties, but he always relied upon the help of God. He refused to deviate from his vocation. What else was his life if not a total dedication to the service for which he had been called? Husband to Our Lady, legal father to Jesus… He devoted his life to the attention he paid them, dedicated to fulfilling his vocation - the mission to which he had been called. As a dedicated man is one who does not belong to himself, Joseph ceased to be concerned for himself from the moment when, enlightened by an angel in that first dream, he fully accepted God’s designs for him.
Receiving Mary as his spouse he began to live for those who had been place in his care. God had entrusted him with His family, and Joseph did not disappoint Him. God sought support in him, and he stood firm in every instance. (F. Suarez, Joseph of Nazareth, pp. 215-216) God counts on us for many great things. We cannot let Him down. Let us tell the Lord that we want to be unswervingly loyal to what He wants of us just as St. Joseph was in his life. We should examine ourselves as to how we can be more faithful in our personal conduct, our apostolate and our profession work. Our perseverance: Father, with unselfish love St. Joseph cared for Your Son, born of the Virgin Mary. May we also serve You at Your altar with pure hearts. (Prayer over the Gifts) (This) is a good time for us to reflect on the teaching of St. Thomas concerning Divine Vocation: To those whom God calls for His work, God provides the necessary preparation and graces, so that they will be the ideal instruments for that work. (St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, 3, q 27, a 4, c) God’s fidelity is made manifest in an infinite variety of ways to help us fulfill our commitments. St. Joseph responded immediately to the countless graces which he received from God. We ought often to reflect in our prayer on the certainty that the Lord will never let us down. He awaits our mature response, whether it be in youth, in adulthood, in old age, in good times or in bad. It is possible that we may not feel God’s presence at times, perhaps for a lengthy period. We may not feel drawn to God because we are full of ourselves. In this kind of situation fidelity to God requires interior recollection. Fidelity requires personal effort to overcome egoism and to begin again a life of prayer. God wants us to be full of love, alert, brimming over with initiatives. The heart of the holy Patriarch was always alive with joy, even in the most difficult of trials. We ought to ensure that our journey to God is as new and original as love itself. Today we ask St. Joseph to give us a share in his youthful spirit. We ask this of him for the sake of those around us who might find thereby a road to Jesus.” (From: In Conversation with God, by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of Mary, Mother and Queen of all hearts, St. Joseph, St. Columbkill, and our Guardian Angels, may we all grow in our devotion to St. Joseph! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel