The following is the homily given at our House of Studies as we celebrate this Solemnity of Saint Joseph. Knowing that most of you will be unable to attend Mass today, we included you and your families in our prayers. We encourage you to take this extra time at home to increase your commitment to prayer for the Church and the world. There is such a great need at this time!
Also, follow along with this season of Carmelcast, focusing on the life and teaching of St. Thérèse, to aid your Lenten reflections. God bless you all!
Late last night I was struck by a reflection I read from one of our Carmelite nuns for this feast: The entire life of Saint Joseph was one prolonged act of faith and obedience in the most obscure and humanly difficult circumstances. I think especially in these dark times that is why he is such a model of trust. Our Holy Father Pope Francis said yesterday during his catechesis; Invoke St Joseph always with confidence, especially in difficult moments, and entrust your existence to this great Saint.
This I believe is what we need so much right now, to entrust our cares to someone who himself became a living model of pure faith and trust in God’s plan. He did not see the plan, he did not know what his next step would be. He simply lived by faith from moment to moment.
People feel great fear right now because so much is at stake. All the more can we look to Joseph. So much was at stake in his life. Saint John Paul II in his letter on Saint Joseph, (Redemptoris Custos) says that his fatherhood shared in the hypostatic order, meaning that his human fatherhood was an essential part of the eternal plan of God the Son to become incarnate as Man. Saint Joseph had no accidental role in salvation, he was part of the same divine decree that willed that Jesus be born of Mary. We can see this in Matthew’s gospel, the angel comes to him just as he comes to Mary. God needs him to be his total servant, living only by obscure faith and trust in the Lord to carry out a calling of infinite weight.
But how to fulfill such a task? If he looked at himself and his own qualities to give him strength he would likely despair. He hoped against hope, as St Paul says of Abraham in the 2nd reading, that God would fulfill his promises and work all things to the good.
Our holy mother St Teresa of Avila was famous for her devotion to St Joseph. In fact, it is said that her writing and example helped lead to the explosion of love for St Joseph which unfolded in the universal Church shortly after her death. But why did she love him? Because he showed her the path of trust in God. Whether it was obtaining her healing after almost three years of paralysis as a young nun, or helping her navigate the interior life of union with Jesus, through St Joseph’s guidance she learned to trust completely in God and not in her own power or plans. This was what constituted her definitive conversion.
Saint Joseph can do the same for us in the dark, uncertain times that we are in. We too can live without a known plan (who can form any plans right now about anything??) without reliance on our own abilities. We can give ourselves moment by moment, in dark faith and obedience, to the God who calls us.
In our desire to be faithful to God’s plan and live fruitfully these present trials, we have such a gift in Saint Joseph. To conclude we repeat these beautiful words from Pope Francis: Invoke St Joseph always with confidence, especially in difficult moments, and entrust your existence to this great Saint.