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Saint Joseph Solemnity
March 19, 2009


1. ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Maria, your wife, with you, because what is generated in her comes from the Holy Spirit.’

Dear brothers and sisters, these words of the Holy Gospel reveal us all the truth about Joseph, and about his vocation.

This text can be indeed considered the announcement of the angel to Joseph, and can be compared to the announcement of the angel to Maria. The Mother of God is introduced in a unique way to the mistery of our salvation, as the girl who had to become the Redeemer’s Mother. Joseph is introduced in the mistery of our salvation entering the mistery of the divine motherhood of Maria. He has been predestined to be the bridegroom of Maria and so to carry out all the tasks of an earthly father towards the Son ‘conceived by means of the Holy Spirit’.

‘Waking up, Joseph did as the angel of God ordered him and took his bride with himself’.

These divine words lead us into the conscience, the inwardness of Joseph. At this level, the faith of Maria meets with the faith of Joseph.

The Second Vatican Council teaches: ‘The obedience of the faith is owed to God who reveals’ the faith for which the men, totally and freely, surrender to God, giving him ‘the full obedience of the mind and of the will’ and voluntarily accepting the revelation he has done. (Dei Verbum 5; EV 1/877).

Even if Joseph finds himself in front of the most unforeseeable and not at all at measure of his human reason. ‘Joseph did as the angel ordered him’. He totally and freely surrenders to God thinking, with spontaneous obedience of his mind, all that the angel told him was true. My dear brothers and sisters, that is the faith, without which it is impossible to please God. It is really the basis and the source of any our justification.

The consequence of this act of faith is that Joseph ‘took his bride with him’. He becomes, together with Maria, the first custodian of the mistery, ‘that was hidden in God’s mind since time immemorial’. And he becomes the custodian of the beginning of its historical realization.

‘She will give birth to a son and you will give him the name of Jesus’. Dear brothers and sisters, the naming of Maria’s Son is done by Joseph. It is not an insignificant detail. NAMING, Joseph declares his own adoptive fatherhood on Jesus. He is called to serve the person and the mission of Jesus carrying out the mission of father. This perspective of the figure of Joseph is particularly emphasized in the Liturgy. It reminds that ‘the beginning of the redemption has been left to the kind care of Saint Joseph’; and that ‘God has put him at the head of his family, as a dedicated and careful servant, so that he could take care, as a father, of his Only-begotten Son.

2. Dear brothers and sisters, what kind of lesson can we draw from the reflection on the figure of Saint Joseph?

I shall confine myself to mention two at least.

It is a fact that gives us a rich matter for thought: the Holy Scripture does not tell anything about Joseph. He is the man of silence. All the great saints have seen a big example of inner life in him. I wish that he will teach us this aptitude to listen to and meditate on what God tells us.

The Sovereign Pontiffs of modern times – from the blessed Pio IX to the servant of God Giovanni Paolo II – have recommended the Holy Church to the protection of Joseph. It is not a simple gesture of devotion. Joseph has always taken care of the Holy family of Nazareth. Therefore, it is right to think he protects the Church of Christ with his heavenly patronage.

Even today we have got a lot of reasons to pray him. ‘Both there was a time you protected the threatened life of Baby Jesus from death, and now you protect the Holy Church of God from hostile dangers and from any trouble’. Amen.


La traduzione, non rivista dal Cardinale Caffarra, è di Stefania Floridia.