March 19, 2015
A Saint Whose Actions Said It All
I am going to tell you something that I do not want to go any further. If I am quoted on this, I’ll get tons of criticism, so I am trusting you to keep a secret:
The saint whose feast we celebrate today, March 19th—Saint Joseph—is even more important that the saint whose day we rejoiced in last Tuesday—Saint Patrick!
I regret the shock this statement will cause. In my defense, Jesus, Mary,—and even Saint Patrick himself!—would agree with me!
The man who knew our Lord best, who cared for Jesus, His foster son—because God is the Father of Jesus—with tenderness and love, this faithful Jew whom the Scriptures call “just”—one of the highest accolades—ranks up with Our Blessed Mother and Saint John the Baptist as the premier disciples of Jesus, and greatest saints.
For my Lenten spiritual reading, I’ve been meditating on an excellent new book, David, by Rabbi David Wolpe. Rabbi Wolpe comments how, at David’s anointing by Samuel, the new king is silent. “The capacity to be silent and receive, the ability to listen, are as crucial to David’s leadership as his valor,” comments the Rabbi.
Maybe that’s where Saint Joseph gets it. After all, we have not one recorded word from his lips in all the Gospel! Joseph says nothing! He comes from the lineage of King David—which is why he and his pregnant wife must return to his ancestral town, Bethlehem, the “city of David,” for the census that first Christmas.
Saint Joseph hardly needs to say anything, because his “actions speak more loudly than words.” These decisive actions require the valor that characterized his ancestor, David, as he obeys the mandate of the angel and takes Mary as his wife, however bewildered he may be by her pregnancy; as he watches over her and the newborn Savior in the manger; as he protects them by fleeing into the safety of Egypt to escape the murderous tyranny of Herod; as he and Our Lady bring Jesus to present Him in the temple, and, twelve years later, fret over their son, lost in the same temple; as he cares for his virgin wife and divine adopted son in the home of Nazareth.
We venerate him as the patron saint of …
- fathers, as he loved Jesus, his adopted son;
- families, since he cared for his wife and son at Nazareth;
- workers, as he labored as a carpenter;
- consecrated women, who pledge virginity to Jesus and His Church, since he cherished so chastely his virgin wife, Mary;
- the hungry, since he provided the table for the Holy Family;
- the Church Universal, because he protected the founder and the Mother of the Church, Jesus and Mary;
- a happy death, since he died in the company of Jesus and Mary.
Even Saint Patrick cannot compare!
Our beloved Pope Francis began his pastorate of the Church formally on March 19, 2013, purposefully choosing the Feast of Saint Joseph. In his brief homily, he urged us to follow the example of tenderness so dramatic in Joseph’s life, and asked us to contemplate the tenderness of this great man for Jesus and Mary.
Then, as one of his first official acts, he placed the name of Saint Joseph in the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass, lest we overlook him.
Because it’s easy to overlook good Saint Joseph: there he is, behind the scenes in our nativity sets, not present in our Lord’s public life, overshadowed by his wife and foster son.
He does not mind being overlooked at all, as long as we put Jesus and Mary at the center.
Pope Francis constantly urges us to pay more attention to those whom the world overlooks and leaves aside.
No wonder he so loves Saint Joseph!