St. Joseph

In 13 Today's Church on 2016/03/19 at 12:00 AM
  • Perhaps the most unassuming saint of all time is St. Joseph. Even though he was the man chosen by God to be the human father of Jesus: the man from whom our Lord would learn to be a man, good St. Joseph is mentioned only a handful of times in Scripture.
  • While St. Joseph was also the loving spouse of the most important woman human history has ever known: the woman who secured the redemption of all mankind with her fiat in Nazareth some 2000 years ago, St. Joseph wasn’t a particularly popular saint until the 19th century.
  • Yet even though he was probably somewhat quiet and unassuming during his earthly life 20 centuries ago, there can be no doubt today that St. Joseph is one of the Church’s greatest saints and a wonderful intercessor for those in need.
  • And St. Joseph is a particularly great saint for men because he is the patron saint of husbands and fathers, yet he was a man who lived a celibate life, which makes him a fitting role model for both married men and priests.
  • When we study the life of St. Joseph, we can find in him the very best example of what a husband and father should be: humble and virtuous, faithful and obedient to our Lord and His commands, diligent and disciplined, yet courageous and strong as well.
  • Truly, outside of our blessed Lord Himself, it is very difficult to find a more perfect example of a man who truly became all that a man is called by God to be.
  • Today our country celebrates Fathers Day, which gives us a very good opportunity to reflect upon the indispensible role of fathers and what it means to be a true man in the eyes of God.
  • Sadly, many sociologists and psychologists today note that we have a “fatherhood crisis” in our country because roughly 50% of children today will spend at least part of their childhood living apart from their biological father because of divorce, separation, or illegitimacy.1
  • Further sociological and psychological data shows us that children who grow up fatherless suffer emotional, spiritual and psychological consequences which can make them more prone to crime, poverty, and educational failure.
  • For example, boys who grow up without their fathers around are twice as likely to spend time in prison as those who grow up in a family with both parents.2
  • While it is true that many single parents do an admirable job raising their children, and while it is not true that all children of single parents have serious problems, the point that these studies ultimately make is that there is no replacement for fatherhood.
  • Indeed, the parental roles of mother and father are not the same, nor are they interchangeable. Both mothers and fathers are necessary for the proper development of children.
  • Our second reading today teaches us that baptism introduces a certain equality amongst the children of God. But while men and women are equal in dignity in the eyes of God, God has designed us for exercising different roles in marriage and family life.
  • We get a sense of these different roles in the 5th chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. This is the famous passage that exhorts wives to be submissive to their husbands and for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.
  • In recent decades this passage has been decried by so-called feminists as being old-fashioned at best and sexist at worst. And yet to read that passage with that bias is to miss the natural beauty that exists in the complementary relationship between men and women.
  1. 1  Fatherhood Crisis, New Men, by Brad Wilcox, 02 February 2005.
  2. 2  Ibid.
  • Moreover, we can’t disregard or reinterpret a passage of Sacred Scripture simply because we don’t like it or find it objectionable. In humility we are called to accept what Scripture teaches us – even if it goes against the grain of our modern prejudices.
  • Our Catholic understanding is that men and women are equal in dignity but exercise different yet complementary roles in marriage and family life.
  • Specifically, men are called to be the head of the family – leading and directing the family, while wives – placing themselves under their husband’s leadership and protection, are called to be the heart of the family.
  • Without a doubt whenever men are absent from their family, or when they refuse to live up to their God-given responsibilities as husbands and fathers, problems arise.
  • It is fathers who are called in a particular way to be leaders, teachers, protectors, providers, and disciplinarians within families. Fathers help their children to face and understand the outside world so that their children can succeed in life.
  • Most importantly, as the spiritual leaders of their families, fathers are called to model virtue and holiness for their children, and this they do through a life of sacrifice lived for their families.
  • Jesus tells us today in the Gospel that if we wish to follow Him, then we must take up our crosses. We must be willing to live lives of sacrifice – being willing to sacrifice our very own lives – for the sake of Him, for this is the essence and heart of Christian discipleship.
  • Thus, the most important thing any man can do is to take the lead and set an example for his wife and children of how to do this.
  • By being willing to sacrifice their own needs and desires for the sake of their families, fathers teach their families the value of sacrifice and the beauty of learning to master one’s will, and in this way they convey their love to their families.
  • In this way, fathers reflect the love of God the Father who was willing to sacrifice even His only Son for our sakes, sinful and selfish as we often prove to be.
  • We live in a society in which we are constantly conditioned and encouraged to be selfish, to satisfy our own needs and desires, and to look out only for ourselves. Yet this is so very contrary to what our faith asks of us, to what our faith shows us is important.
  • Thus our society is in desperate need of holy men who will not only lead their families in the ways of Christian discipleship, but who will also endeavor to make this world a better place through the courageous exercise of virtue.
  • Indeed, the Latin word for man comes from the Latin root for virtue. So in other words, to be manly in the proper sense of the word is to be virtuous: to act with moral rectitude in every situation and to be free of vice and immorality.
  • For those of you men here today, I challenge you to be a real man by fulfilling your God- given responsibilities as a husband and father. Take up your cross and follow Christ by living a life of sacrifice and mortification for your wife and children.
  • Strive for virtue and holiness and be the true leader of your household – especially in spiritual matters.
  • Ladies, support and encourage your husbands with your words, actions, and prayers. It’s not easy to be a virtuous man in our world today, but behind every good and faithful man is usually a good and faithful woman.
  • And may St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers, husbands, and families, intercede for us all.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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