In his apostolic letter “With a Father’s Heart,” Pope Francis reminds us that Joseph was “creatively courageous.”
We don’t often think of courage as being creative. Too often we think of it as forcefully resisting pain, tragedy, or hardship. It’s the soldier on the front lines, the stern bulwark against the stresses of life, the powerful defender. But creative? That doesn’t sound very courageous. Yet “creatively courageous” is one of the descriptions Pope Francis uses for Saint Joseph.
Read the Pope’s own words:
A creatively courageous father
If the first stage of all true interior healing is to accept our personal history and embrace even the things in life that we did not choose, we must now add another important element: creative courage. This emerges especially in the way we deal with difficulties. In the face of difficulty, we can either give up and walk away, or somehow engage with it. At times, difficulties bring out resources we did not even think we had.
As we read the infancy narratives, we may often wonder why God did not act in a more direct and clear way. Yet God acts through events and people. Joseph was the man chosen by God to guide the beginnings of the history of redemption. He was the true “miracle” by which God saves the child and his mother. God acted by trusting in Joseph’s creative courage. Arriving in Bethlehem and finding no lodging where Mary could give birth, Joseph took a stable and, as best he could, turned it into a welcoming home for the Son of God come into the world (cf. Lk 2:6–7). Faced with imminent danger from Herod, who wanted to kill the child, Joseph was warned once again in a dream to protect the child, and rose in the middle of the night to prepare the flight into Egypt (cf. Mt 2:13–14).
A superficial reading of these stories can often give the impression that the world is at the mercy of the strong and mighty, but the “good news” of the Gospel consists in showing that, for all the arrogance and violence of worldly powers, God always finds a way to carry out his saving plan. So too, our lives may at times seem to be at the mercy of the powerful, but the Gospel shows us what counts. God always finds a way to save us, provided we show the same creative courage as the carpenter of Nazareth, who was able to turn a problem into a possibility by trusting always in divine providence.
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 (5).
“Joseph had the courage to become the legal father of Jesus, to whom he gave the name revealed by the angel: ‘You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Mt 1:21).” –Pope Francis
Saint Joseph, help me to live with “creative courage.” Amen.
Image credit: Patrice THEBAULT/CIRIC