WINNIPEG — There is little said in the Scriptures about Joseph, the father of the Holy Family, and Jesus himself says nothing about his foster father, so did Christ not love his earthly father? According to Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon, “You bet he did.”
Gagnon presided at mass on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19 at St. Joseph’s Church in North Winnipeg. Joseph is the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, of Canada and of the universal church.
The archbishop said in this the year of the centennial jubilee celebration of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, “we are challenged to reflect on those who came before us. We think of those men and women of faith before us who we honour.”
Though there is little mention of Joseph in the Bible, “his actions speak a thousand words,” Gagnon said.
“He is the special husband that God chose to be the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through Joseph God entered the world. It is Joseph who guided Jesus into the world of people. Our Lord watched his foster father and how he interacted with people and worked as a carpenter.”
Gagnon said Joseph “was an important part of the raising up of the saviour.” Joseph was the custodian and guardian of God made flesh. God gave him the graces he needed to fulfil that awesome role. What human being could fulfil that role without the grace of God? Joseph taught Jesus and Joseph is precisely the saint we should look to.”
The archbishop said that, although Joseph does not say anything in the Bible, “he does say a very important ‘yes’ to God, and that is the word that Jesus teaches us.”
The yes that Joseph spoke was his decision to keep Mary as his wife after she became pregnant with Jesus. “Imagine the public scandal,” the archbishop said.
One of the brief Bible passages about Joseph describes how, after marrying Mary, Joseph found that she was already pregnant, and being “a just man and unwilling to put her to shame” (Mt. 1:19), he decided to divorce her quietly, knowing that if he did so publicly, she could be stoned to death. But an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him that the child Mary carried was the son of God and was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so Joseph kept Mary as his wife.
Gagnon recalled the words of St. Bernardine of Sienna. who called Joseph “the faithful foster-parent and guardian of the most precious treasures of God, his Son and his spouse. This was the task which he so faithfully carried out. For this, the Lord said to him, ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.’ ”
“We do well to have Joseph as the patron saint of our lives,” Gagnon said. “If he was the guide for Jesus, he can guide us. We are honouring Joseph for what he did as a faithful servant in charge of God’s household.”