In his apostolic letter Patris Corde, Pope Francis declared 2021 the Year of St. Joseph. Besides being the Patron of the Church, St. Joseph is a model for all of us in our lives of faith.
He lived a life of sacrificial service to the mystery of the incarnation and its redemptive purpose.
He holds a unique place in Salvation History.
He was the first teacher of Jesus and showed him the compassion and love of a father.
He also saved the Holy Family, leading them as they fled into Egypt to escape persecution.
He was obedient to the will of the Father even though it involved hardship. (Mt. 2:1-15).
St. Joseph was called by God to be Jesus’ earthly father. He shows all of us that things happen in life that we do not understand, but we are called by faith to trust in the Lord. Even when we are faced with challenges, disappointments and loss, we are invited to accept the course of events, embrace and take responsibility for them, and make them part of our own story.
When the Holy Family traveled to Bethlehem, we often think that there was no room in the “inn” or hotel. In fact, Bethlehem was a place where St. Joseph had relatives and friends, but no one would accept him and his pregnant wife, so they turned them away. It was a true rejection by those who personally knew him. For that reason, Jesus was born in a stable filled with animals.
How often do we also discount people because we judge them and thus withhold the love of God from them? But even in rejection, pain and difficulty, St. Joseph, through his faith, cared for the Holy Family, took care of them, and kept them safe.
The spiritual path that St. Joseph shows us is not one that explains difficulties in life but rather accepts them and makes them moments of grace.
That attitude of faith encourages all of us to accept and welcome others as they are, without exception, and to show special concern for the weak, for God chooses those who are weak (cf. 1 Cor 1:27). He is the “Father of orphans and protector of widows” (Ps 68:5) who commands us to love the stranger in our midst (Lk 10:29-37). Jesus, no doubt, drew from St. Joseph in his parable of the merciful father in his teachings and parables (Lk 15:11-32)
St. Joseph teaches us about creative courage as he was able to turn challenges and problems in his life into blessings through his trust in Divine Providence. The Holy Family faced concrete problems in life as we all do, but most especially our brothers and sisters in the developing world who face hunger, poverty, persecution and hatred. Cross Catholic Outreach embraces these marginalized children of God, much like St. Joseph did the child Jesus. We offer them compassion and love with the hope of a better future. By loving them, we share the love of Christ and demonstrate the same creative courage modeled by St. Joseph.
Just as St. Joseph was a protective father to Jesus, he also protects every person who is poor, suffering, dying, a stranger, imprisoned, or infirmed. All of these groups are “the child” that Cross Catholic Outreach joins St. Joseph in protecting.
The mission of Cross Catholic Outreach directly reflects the spirituality of St. Joseph as we seek to serve and defend the poor in our world. We must all learn to love the child and his mother, the sacraments and charity, and the Church and the poor.
St. Joseph never made himself the center of attention. He is barely mentioned in Sacred Scripture. He focused on Mary and Jesus. It is this humble trust in God that makes St. Joseph such a strong model for each of us in our lives of faith.
As we all celebrate the Year of St. Joseph, let us all strive to embody his attitude of trust in God and make a commitment to his creative courage to bring hope and love to the needy in our world, especially to those in greatest need.