By Fr. Hao Dinh
In the history of the Church, two years have been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary: the first in 1954 and the other in 1987. One celebrated a belief rooted in Mary’s history – the dogma of her Immaculate Conception, defined in 1854; the other encouraging us on our journey towards the future – preparation for the third Christian millennium, in which we are now living.
It is fitting that during the trying times that we are now enduring, the Church invites us to “go to Joseph” (Genesis 41:55), the Guardian of the Redeemer and the Patron of the Universal Church.
For our local Church in this Valley of Heart’s Delight, the Year of Saint Joseph could not come at a more opportune time,
as we begin our Jubilee to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of San José. We “go to Joseph” and are confident that he keeps accompanying us as we continue “Journeying Together in Hope” (Jubilee theme).
School of Saint Joseph
Joseph of Nazareth was more than the legal father of Jesus. He gave to the Redeemer more than a name. As Pope Francis points out in his apostolic letter Patris corde, inaugurating the year in his honor, “in Joseph, Jesus saw the tender love of God.” The ordinary carpenter was raising Jesus with extraordinarily loving care, and seeing him grow daily in wisdom and in stature.
“Jesus learned at the school of Joseph to do the will of the Father,” the Pope notes. “In every situation, Joseph declared his own ‘fiat,’ like those of Mary at the Annunciation and of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.”
Saint Joseph is a role model for fathers, a model needed by families especially in our times, and an exemplary believer who strives to do God’s will. Yet, is he able to teach us how to live with challenges and uncertainties?
No Stranger to Crises and Uncertainties
The Gospel tells us that Joseph was no stranger to crises and uncertainties. He accepted Mary, despite all odds, turned a stable into a shelter for the newborn Jesus, and fled Herod in the middle of the night, to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.
In Pope Francis’ words, “Often in life, things happen whose meaning we do not understand. Our first reaction is frequently one of disappointment and rebellion. Joseph set aside his own ideas in order to accept the course of events and, mysterious as they seemed, to embrace them, take responsibility for them and make them part of his own history.”
To the Holy Father, this attitude is not about living “with mere resignation but with hope and courage. In this way, we become open to a deeper meaning. Our lives can be miraculously reborn if we find the courage to live them in accordance with the Gospel… God can make flowers spring up from stony ground.”
A Father in the Shadows
Saint Joseph is also portrayed by Pope Francis as a father in the shadows, using this evocative image from Jan Dobraczyński’s book “The Shadow of the Father” about Saint Joseph. The carpenter of Nazareth represents those who appear ordinary, hidden, but have their roles in history.
During the pandemic, the Pope observes, “our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history.”
This Year of Saint Joseph and the 40th Jubilee of our Diocese are not merely causes for celebration, but also renewed calls to action. We inherit a legacy of faith and service, and we are challenged to go forward with a dedication transformed by the very faith and service that we claim as our own. It is particularly urgent during these times of both trial and opportunity. Our liturgy must be connected to life. Our faith must lead to action.
Each of us can learn from Saint Joseph, the one who is righteous and compassionate, a working and caring family man, a courageous and creative husband and father, an intercessor and companion in good times and in bad.
Together with Joseph of Nazareth and Clare of Assisi, whose patronage we also share, let us recommit ourselves “to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).
Let us continue “journeying together in hope” as we “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).