The first thing Pope Francis says about Joseph is that he is a “beloved father.”
A beloved person is one who is deeply and profoundly loved. In the Song of Songs, the word indicates the deep affection between the lovers. Israel itself is often called the “beloved of the LORD” (see Deuteronomy 33:12, Jeremiah 11:15).
New Testament authors often use the word beloved when recognizing others as brothers and sisters in Christ. And, of course, one can’t help but recall the words of God the Father to Jesus at the River Jordan: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Joseph is beloved not only by his immediate family, but also by the whole Church. Outside of Mary, no other figure is mentioned more times in Church documents. He is beloved because he first loved. He loved Mary enough to protect her from the scandal of unwed motherhood. He loved Jesus enough to treat him as if he were his own biological son. And he loved God enough to trust when an angel appeared to him, giving him unbelievable information, and instructing him to take Mary and Jesus to the far-off land of Egypt.
By first loving, he became beloved. May we all follow his example.
“Let us love Jesus above all, let us love Mary as our mother; but then, how could we keep from loving Joseph, who was so intimately united to both Jesus and Mary? And how can we honor him better than by imitating his virtues? Now, what else did he do in all his life but contemplate, study, and adore Jesus, even in the midst of his daily labors? Behold, therefore, our model.”
–Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat
Saint Joseph, you know what it is like to live as a good man in trying times. Help us to find our own central core of decency and to never compromise our values. Amen.
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