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A celebration of St. Joseph

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

March 19, 2014

Homily for the Solemnity of St. Joseph…Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse 

“When Joseph awoke he did as the angel of the Lord had directed him.”  But he never said a word. 
It’s true that the Scriptures record no spoken words of St. Joseph.  All four Gospel authors make reference to him, and Luke and Matthew speak of him directly.  But he never says a word. 

How can that be? He has been such a hallowed figure in our Church tradition. Must not all holy people at least say something profound and notable that proclaims their faith and its impact on others? 

Maybe, just maybe Joseph is such an icon of our faith precisely because there are no recorded words of his.  As one author put it, “Perhaps words would be a distraction.” 

We know a great deal about St. Joseph from the Person he raised.  For 30 years, Jesus lived, prayed, celebrated, studied, and shared in the home Joseph established.

St. Joseph is best known through Jesus’ words and deeds.  St. Joseph was the man who risked everything to care for Mary and her Son, safeguarding them from harm and cherishing them with the purest love.   Joseph’s life is a catechism writ large, a flesh and blood testimony of what it means to live according to the Father’s will, with one’s mind and heart centered on Christ. But not one word of his was written down.  Joseph willingly yields to the plan of God because it touches something deep within his heart.

Words so often just come from the head. Deeds come from the heart.  “By your fruits you shall know them”- not merely by the words they say.  Words can be cheap.

We can be very articulate, say the right words, author masterpieces of literature.  But if our actions are inconsistent with what we verbalize, they can betray a certain shallowness, a lack of genuineness, a façade of faith, a fraudulent piety.  

Like Joseph, we must be willing to yield to God’s plan, His love and mercy because it touches something deep within our hearts.  Until Jesus touches our hearts, our words simply won’t ring true. Decisions, action  for the good come from natural hearts (not stony organs) touched by God.

Don’t we yearn for our hearts to be truly the wellspring for all that we are and all that we do?  Real faith is born from a meekness of heart awakened to the truth of God present in the Person of His Son. 

As we just heard in our Gospel, Joseph literally awakens to this truth and immediately sets about centering his life on the Incarnate Word.  With a meekness of heart Joseph did as the Lord had directed him.

Dear Sisters of St. Joseph, through your consecration, you are “betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.”  What man could possibly understand better the choice you have made to be a transcendent sign of the Church’s love of Christ than a man whose spouse remained a virgin? 

Joseph experienced in his life both the great good of marriage and esteem for virginity for the sake of the kingdom, as it was embodied in Mary.  

How eager, then, is Joseph to protect the women who by choice and consecration have united their lives in a special way to Christ, inspired by the life of Joseph. 

How eager he is to help you courageously live and work, according to your distinct gifts, as a leaven in the world.         

I’m sure that St. Joseph has a special affinity for you, consecrated daughters of the Church. 

Your witness of deed, not just word, challenges and inspires your Bishop and all those who know you to do likewise.

May the one who was charged with guiding and supporting the Holy Family, ever so quietly, continue to do the same for this community of devoted sisters.

May the meekness of your hearts allow you to always welcome and live with courage and eagerness the dream the Lord has knit for you. 

Happy Feast Day Sisters of St. Joseph!

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