Everyday Apostles June 2018 | Page 28

St. Joseph: Model of Perfection

"In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!"

- Pope Francis (Homily for the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome)

Blessings on this Solemnity of St. Joseph! As we

celebrate this feast day of the Patron of the

Universal Church, we also celebrate the fifth

anniversary of the beginning of the Petrine ministry of Pope Francis. He chose this day particularly for this event and later inserted an

invocation of St. Joseph into all the Eucharistic

Prayers, not simply Eucharistic Prayer I (Roman

Canon). Pope Francis not only invites us to see St.

Joseph as protector of the Universal Church, but

also calls us all to be protectors who live with

tenderness that shows the love of Christ. What does

it mean to be a "protector"? In the same homily

quoted above, he offers us an answer, which he

witnesses as pope.

"In [St. Joseph], dear friends, we learn how to

respond to God's call, readily and willingly, but we

also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is

Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we

can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a "protector", however, is not

just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God's gifts!"

The Pope's actions toward those on the peripheries witness to how we can both protect and show tenderness, "responding to God's call" as St. Joseph did. For as he said also in his homily, "only those who serve with love are able to protect!"