Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of March 19, 2007
Feast of St. Joseph
1st reading: 2 Sam 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Ps 88; 2nd reading: Rm 4:13, 16-18, 22; Gospel: Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24
For us it is no news that the characteristic virtue of St. Joseph is humility; but to have authentic humility, true humility before God, not the artificial one sometimes men like to be adorned with, it is an essential condition that there is love. The other virtues are probably easier to exercise than humility, both in terms of the effort they require and the effort needed to obtain them. Chastity, which seems a virtue so difficult to practice, in my humble opinion gives way to humility, because humility is extremely difficult and demanding. I remember having read of a great preacher who turned to a community of nuns and made a pun by saying: "You are chaste like the angels and proud as the devil"; this is a confirmation of what I was saying. One who achieves the virtue of humility at the highest possible degree is designed by God to perform great tasks. Today the humble Joseph rises like a giant. Once I was lucky enough to see him, but I was so excited that the details, the particulars of his person escaped me and this morning I have asked God the Father to see him a second time, to have the opportunity to fix his image within me. I remember that our Lord showed him to me as a big, tall giant in the true sense of the word because God leads the one who is humble, who knows how to live an inner silence, to unattainable heights. Inner silence means reaching an extraordinary dialogue with God, an attitude of charity towards our brothers. Giuseppe spoke and showed as a great, gigantic, handsome character. Sometimes in my heart there has been the desire to know where the body of St. Joseph is located; he died in Nazareth, so he must be in that area. Why was nothing of this character so great in the eyes of God found? Perhaps one day he will be found, probably it will be God to indicate the place where he is buried so that he can be exhumed and exposed to the devotion of the faithful that in ever larger gathering are manifesting for him. The humble who becomes great, the small one for men who becomes a giant.
PRAYER TO St. JOSEPH
St. Joseph, we invoke you because you are
the Guardian of the Eucharist,
the Protector of the Church
and the Patron of the World.
Help us to love our families
like you did with yours,
so that we can become an example of Christian family
founded on love.
You, the smallest for men,
but the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven,
teach us how to strip ourselves of pride and dress again with humility.
Enlighten with your example our journey towards God
and let us follow your steps
on the path to holiness.
Teach us to pray in the silence of our heart,
in total abandonment to the will of the Father,
especially in times when we are
spiritually and morally torn.
Give us inner silence,
necessary when we are in adoration
before your dear Jesus.
Help us to protect and love the Eucharist
with the same care and devotion
that you had towards the Son of God.
Spread your mantle above us
as you did with Jesus and Mary in the desert.
Support us in our daily difficulties and ailments
so that we can unite
our little sufferings to the sacrifice of Christ.
Encourage us to live in purity and chastity,
help us to defend the truth with courage.
Righteous and God-fearing man,
watch on the Church
that today needs your prayers to be reborn
in every virtues you cultivated in your soul
with Mary's help.
This prayer, formulated with the cooperation of all the young people of our community, highlights and underlines St. Joseph's greatness. It is a small theology treatise that has, as its subject, the study and reflection on this personage we now begin to love more and more and to whom we attribute wonderful prerogatives. If the title "Guardian of the Eucharist" will probably turn up the nose of some theologians, it means that they have understood nothing. As Jesus is present in the Eucharist in Body, Blood and Soul, and it is the same Jesus that Joseph took care of, loved, hug, kissed, then when we say Jesus' guardian and say guardian of the Eucharist it makes no difference. Our Lady is the Mother of the Eucharist because she generated the Son of God by virtue of the Holy Spirit, so Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Eucharist is the same thing; the same reasoning is valid if we say Jesus' guardian, which is therefore equivalent to saying guardian of the Eucharist. As Joseph watched over Jesus, protected Him from danger, with his work he provided Jesus with the necessary food, he prayed with him since he was a little one, then a child, then an adolescent and then a young man, as a consequence he had a close and tender relationship with Jesus' physical body, so he has a close relationship also with the Church which is Jesus' mystical body. Having fulfilled his task of protecting Jesus' physical body, he is now also protecting the Church, however, while in regard to Jesus his task has been very easy, it is in regard to the Church that his task becomes extremely difficult. Also this morning God the Father has said again: "The Church is living the most critical, the most difficult, the most dramatic moment in its history", for this reason it is right to place it under the protection, besides its head and founder, Jesus Christ, also under Our Lady and St. Joseph's protection. St. Joseph is patron of the world, this world is increasingly de-Christianized because it goes to the pursuit of pleasure, hedonism, wealth, comfort, all material goods. The world must also preserve the spiritual values, those spiritual values ??that Joseph lived and that must be infused by him in the whole world. "Help us to love our families", this family so violently wounded, struck by all sides; they even want to overwhelm its natural identity, they want to equate the family to what is not a family, they want that conjugal love to be replaced by something that certainly is not love. The one whom God chose as head of the first and greatest family, can equally protect, at least, those families who want to be protected, our families; may he watch over every member so that he may have strength and be an authentic witness in difficult times. The family is founded on love, families that these newspapers are talking about these days are not based on love, but on pleasure and it is something different. "The smallest of men but the greatest in the kingdom of heaven", men judge and make mistakes, God judges and His judgment is right. It is always like this: what is great for men is small for God, even non-existent, on the other hand, what is small for men is so great for God that He stops contented in front of the masterpieces created by His hands and shaped by His heart and His love. "Enlighten with your example our journey towards God" and his example can be a driving force. "Let us follow your footsteps in the path to holiness, teach us to pray in the silence of the heart", and here the concept of inner silence returns. Joseph had become very capable to abstract himself from external realities and concentrate on his own, or with his beloved spouse, or even with Jesus, in a fervent conversation with God the Father. We too must get to this point. Someone still says he is distracted during prayer, but it is so because the necessary concentration is not there, because you cannot silence all the voices within us and hear the only voice able to suggest the good to be done and the evil to avoid. "When we are in adoration before your dear Jesus", you have read Our Lady's life and you will remember the really beautiful image of Joseph coming home from work, going towards little Jesus' cradle and getting down on his knees. I have already said and now I repeat it that this exceptional figure was also an example of remarkable moral and psychological balance. The great Joseph bows in adoration before a frail child and lived in tranquility and serenity, he did not ask many questions because he knew that Jesus was God, and before Him he wanted to bow, but He was also a child he had to look after, defend and protect, as he also protected the Mother of the Eucharist. "Spread your mantle above us as you did with Jesus in the desert", this is an image taken from Our Lady's life, when the Ghibli, the well-known desert wind that moves mountains of sand and also prevents breathing, assailed them. Try to imagine the scene: the small grains of sand penetrated everywhere and Joseph, with his body, shielded little Jesus and his beloved wife. "Support us in our daily difficulties and illnesses", as a community we really need St. Joseph, we are a community of devastated and bruised people, so he, of course, can help us overcome all our difficulties. I say this with a smile to play it down, but I respect all those who have health problems and live in suffering and sometimes even in fear. Offer all of them to the Lord and He will give you, in return, merits and rewards. "Encourage us to live in purity and chastity", the wooden stick is symbol of his purity, symbol of his chastity, the stick boomed forth because the one who had deposited it in the temple of God had already clear in his heart the need to be totally consecrated to God. To consecrate to God he had to renounce his legitimate human love and sublimate it, bringing it to wonderful heights. St. Joseph was truly a spouse and consort, not because he exercised these activities in a natural way, but because he was able to sublimate his life and existence, bringing it to angelic heights with his wife. "Just, God fearing, watch over the Church", this is what I ask him this evening: may he watch over this Church, a ship leaking from all sides; this Church has become loot for rapacious men who sink their hands to wrest wealth and power. The Church must be reborn, can be reborn and will be reborn. Today God has spoken about it as well, but He has not revealed to us when this will happen, He alone knows it, I believe that even Our Lady does not know it. We and Our Lady feel in the same situation at the Annunciation: Our Lady had known she would become a Mother but did not know when, we know there will be a triumph, but we do not know when, so we are in good company. And if Our Lady knew she would become a Mother, St. Joseph, once again giving an example of humility, did not even know it. Imagine how he may have felt when he saw Our Lady's incipient pregnancy; he felt a painful suffering, because a laceration tore him from side to side: but there was love, respect, certainty of the bride's holiness and the evidence of facts. I believe that enduring and living these sufferings really means having a close union with God. To St. Joseph I particularly entrust this community with all its faults, its weaknesses, its frailties, I entrust the people present, the people absent, the people in Rome, in Italy, in the whole world. Today he will know how to gather our prayers in a special way, and since it is his feast, a smiling God will say to him: "Yes, Joseph, I will make you happy". Praised be Jesus Christ.