“Each of us can discover in Joseph—the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence—an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. Saint Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all.”
–Pope Francis, Introduction of With a Father’s Heart (Patris Corde)
Often we can be lured into thinking that the only successful life is one that is marked by fame and fortune. Social media plays into this anxiety by showing us endless “perfect” people leading “perfect” lives, unhampered by the ordinary concerns of ordinary people. Television ads are notorious for feeding this. You would think from prescription commercials that everyone who has a fatal illness is off kayaking, partying, and generally living a grand life when they are more likely just making it through the day.
That’s why Joseph can be such a good example for us. We know very little about him, but he is an essential part of the story of salvation. His quiet presence (he doesn’t say a single word in the Gospels) brings a steady comfort. Joseph is with Mary and Jesus, and he is with us in our ordinary lives. His was a hidden life but a life lived for the good of all.
As Pope Francis so eloquently writes:
“Our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people, people often overlooked. People who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines, or on the latest television show, yet in these very days are surely shaping the decisive events of our history. Doctors, nurses, storekeepers and supermarket workers, cleaning personnel, caregivers, transport workers, men and women working to provide essential services and public safety, volunteers, priests, men and women religious, and so very many others. They understood that no one is saved alone. . . How many people daily exercise patience and offer hope, taking care to spread not panic, but shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday ways, how to accept and deal with a crisis by adjusting their routines, looking ahead and encouraging the practice of prayer. How many are praying, making sacrifices and interceding for the good of all.”
–Pope Francis, Introduction of With a Father’s Heart (Patris Corde), citing Meditation in the Time of Pandemic (27 March 2020): L’Osservatore Romano, 29 March 2020, p. 10
My dear Saint Joseph, pray to Jesus for me. Certainly he can never refuse you anything, as he obeyed all your orders while on earth. Tell him to detach me from all creatures and from myself, to inflame me with his holy love, and then do with me what he pleases. –Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Saint Joseph, when I get caught up in ideas of what success means, let me remember your example and find peace in my daily life. Amen.
Image credit: Corinne SIMON/CIRIC