My holy Capuchin confrere, Padre Pio, used to say: Ite ad Joseph. Go to Joseph with extreme confidence, because I do not remember having asked anything from St Joseph, without having obtained it readily. But why all this power in St Joseph’s intercession? The reason is quite obvious: St Joseph confidence in God is simply superb!
If we call the Foster Father of the Son of God most watchful guardian of the Holy Family is it not because he trusted in God completely? If we go to him when we undergo the harshest tribulation so as to intercede for us, with the Most Holy Spouse, before the Thone of the Holy One, is it not because of his total faith in the Father of All Mercies? What gave the impetus to Joseph to embrace the Child Jesus, to shower him with that sublime paternal love stemming from a precious fatherly heart if not because he put his life in God’s hands? If he generously spent his life caring for Jesus and Mary knowing that God was with him (Acts 7:9) how then would he not care for you and me? This special man, Joseph of Nazareth, is not simply a copy of the partiarch Joseph of the Old Testament, whom his brothers sell him into Egypt. He is far greater than him. This man, in whom we are extolling God’s holiness, is the one who raised Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the One who was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power (Acts 10:38), the One who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him (Acts 10:38).
Now, if God the Father infinitely trusted Joseph with his two most precious jewels, Jesus and Mary, did He not do this because in the Most Faithful Servant He saw the most humble and trusting heart ever to be found among men? Is it not logical then that St Joseph would be the one to defend the chosen children of Jesus Christ, the most loving father, the one who wards off from us every contagion of error and corrupting influence? Would not be Joseph’s role to be our mighty protector, to be kind to us in successfully assisting us in our struggle with the power of darkness? Did not his life, as recorded in the Holy Gospel, show us ample evidence of his exceptional confidence in God in making him life, with conviction, what St Paul wrote to the Romans: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21)? If Joseph once rescued the Child Jesus from deadly peril due to his intact confidence in Divine Mercy how can he not be on our side, both individually and as Church in our constant battle against the enemy? Will not his outright trust in God obtain for us his constant protection? Will not his shinning example be our aid? Will not his silent yet eloquent confidence in Divine Providence propel us to live piously and open our heart to let it be led in the way of holiness by St Joseph himself? Would not the result of such a holy life, embedded in inspiring confidence, help us die in holiness and wide open for us the eternal happiness in heaven?
What shall I say more about Joseph’s outstanding dependence on God if not letting Pope Benedict XVI filling our hearts with love for the Holy Protector of the Church? Commenting on Joseph’s total assurance in God’s faithfulness the Holy Father observed in a homily given on March 19 2009:
Joseph trusts God when he hears his messenger, the Angel, say to him: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her” (Mt 1:20). Throughout all of history, Joseph is the man who gives God the greatest display of trust, even in the face of such astonishing news. (…) As you see, we always ask the Lord to protect the Church – and he does! – Just as Joseph protected his family and kept watch over the child Jesus during his early years.
What strikes the heart is that even the man who gives the greatest manifestation of trust had his dark moments where his belief was put to the test. However, instead of giving in to lack of faith Joseph let God be God in his life. He let Him guide him up to the point that God’s will in his life wonderfully prevailed. In his reflection of March 19 2021 Pope Francis said:
Tonight, we pray together, entrusting ourselves to the intercession of St. Joseph, guardian of the Holy Family, guardian of our families. Even the carpenter from Nazareth knew uncertainty and disappointment, concern about the future, but he also knew how to walk in the dark of certain moments letting himself be guided, without reservation, by God’s will.
It is then with every reason that we entrust to him our country, those responsible for the common good, those who use their God-given intelligence to seek the right means for the health and physical well-being of their brothers and sisters, those who are giving their lives for the needy ones, the Church’s ministers, our families, the elderly, the most vulnerable, the poor, the sick and to every person.
Pope Francis wisely reminds us: By accepting himself according to God’s design, Joseph fully finds himself, beyond himself. His freedom to renounce even what is his, the possession of his very life, and his full interior availability to the will of God challenge us and show us the way.
St Joseph, the mirror of patience, the protector of the Holy Church, by his holy life teaches us what Jesus tells us in his gospel: If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt 16:24-25). Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:24-25). If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him (John 12:26).
After the Blessed Virgin Mary, St Joseph is the most remarkable icon of the great confidence in God indeed!
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap