Listen to the latest Wisdom of Pope Francis episode on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter about what makes St. Joseph a model father for us today.
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Read Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter on St. Joseph.
Outline of the episode:
Normally I go through a bit of Fratelli Tutti, but Pope Francis just declared this coming year the year of St. Joseph.
He also dropped an Apostolic Letter explaining the significance of St. Joseph and why, during this pandemic, he’s been drawn to this figure and why he thinks the church needs to turn to him in this time of social turbulence.
Who is St. Joseph?
Foster father of Jesus.
Known for his quiet obedience and faithfulness to God as he took care of Mary and Jesus.
Especially in light of this pandemic, Pope Francis has been drawn a lot more to St. Joseph as a model for us.
As many toil behind the scenes to make our society keep running, so Joseph toiled behind the scenes.
In his Apostolic Letter, dropped just a couple days ago, the pope goes into who St. Joseph is, and how he models the faithful Christian life for us and shows us what it means to be a true father.
Side note: Francis drops wisdom like gold nuggets. Every paragraph, every sentence, is something you could meditate on for the next ten minutes. So I’m just going to touch on main ideas here, but I highly recommend, if you are Catholic, and especially if you are a Catholic father, sit with this document. for awhile. Find a quiet corner or park and take it in.
First, Pope Francis makes the point the St. Joseph is beloved by the saints and in popular piety. He gave himself entirely to the work of raising Jesus and taking care of the Holy Family. For this, he is considered, in a spiritual sense, the foster father of the whole church.
Secondly, the pope calls Joseph a tender and loving father. Satan, and the world, looks at frailty and weakness with derision. But you can’t do that as a father. I love the Pope’s quote here:
“As the Lord had done with Israel, so Joseph did with Jesus: “he taught him to walk, taking him by the hand; he was for him like a father who raises an infant to his cheeks, bending down to him and feeding him” (cf. Hos 11:3-4).
Joseph was just a carpenter, but even through his weaknesses and smallness, he let God use him to take care of his precious son.
Third, Joseph was an obedient father. Whenever God tells him to do something, he does it – no questions asked. Jesus learned obedience from Joseph.
“During the hidden years in Nazareth, Jesus learned at the school of Joseph to do the will of the Father.”
Fourth, Joseph was an accepting father. He accepted God’s will as it was, not as he wanted it to be.
“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.”
Not just resignation, but acceptance. No need for explanations, just obedience. Accept others as they are.
Fifth, Joseph was the creatively courageous father. He did not wait for God to come down and give him everything so that he need do nothing. No, he had a job to do and he did it.
“If at times God seems not to help us, surely this does not mean that we have been abandoned, but instead are being trusted to plan, to be creative, and to find solutions ourselves.”
Uses example of friends who brought paralytic to Jesus through the roof.
Are you waiting for God to do something? How about you do it? Maybe you are the answer to your own prayers.
Seventh, Pope Francis calls Joseph a father in the shadows. He imitates the heavenly father by not taking possession of Jesus, but letting him grow into the man he was supposed to be.
“Fathers are not born, but made. A man does not become a father simply by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child. Whenever a man accepts responsibility for the life of another, in some way he becomes a father to that person.”
“Our world today needs fathers. It has no use for tyrants who would domineer others as a means of compensating for their own needs. It rejects those who confuse authority with authoritarianism, service with servility, discussion with oppression, charity with a welfare mentality, power with destruction. Every true vocation is born of the gift of oneself.”
“In every exercise of our fatherhood, we should always keep in mind that it has nothing to do with possession, but is rather a “sign” pointing to a greater fatherhood.”
This dwelling on Joseph as our model and as someone we go to for guidance and intercession is something Pope Francis wants us to dwell on this coming year.
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