Joseph’s Faith, Hope, and Love
Faith, hope, love: these are the supports of Joseph’s life and of all Christian lives. Joseph’s self-giving is an interweaving of faithful love, loving faith and confident hope. His feast is thus a good opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the Christian calling God has given each of us.
When you sincerely desire to live by faith, hope and love, the renewal of your commitment is not a matter of picking up again something neglected. When there really is faith, hope and love, renewal means staying in God’s hands, despite our personal faults, mistakes and defects. It is a confirmation of our faithfulness. Renewing our commitment means renewing our fidelity to what God wants of us: it means expressing our love in deeds.
Love has certain standard features. Sometimes we speak of love as if it were an impulse to self-satisfaction or a mere means to selfish fulfillment of one’s own personality. But that’s not love. True love means going out of oneself, giving oneself. Love brings joy, but a joy whose roots are in the shape of a cross. As long as we are on earth and have not yet arrived at the fullness of the future life, we can never have true love without sacrifice and pain. This pain becomes sweet and lovable; it is the source of interior joy. But it is an authentic pain, for it involves overcoming one’s own selfishness and taking Love as the rule of each and every thing we do.
Anything done out of love is important, however small it might appear. God has come to us, even though we are miserable creatures, and he has told us that he loves us: “My delight is to be among the sons of men.” Our Lord tells us that everything is valuable — those actions which from a human point of view we regard as extraordinary and those which seem unimportant. Nothing is wasted. No man is worthless to God. All of us are called to share the kingdom of heaven — each with his own vocation: in his home, his work, his civic duties and the exercise of his rights.
St Joseph’s life is a good example of this: it was simple, ordinary and normal, made up of years of the same work, of days — just one day after another — which were monotonous from a human point of view. I have often thought about this, meditating on St Joseph’s life; it is one of the reasons for having a special devotion to him.
When Pope John XXIII closed the first session of Vatican Council II and announced that the name of St Joseph was going to be included in the canon of the Mass, a very important churchman telephoned me to say, “Congratulations. Listening to the Pope’s announcement, I thought immediately of you and of how happy you’d be.” And indeed I was happy, for in that conciliar gathering, which represented the whole Church brought together in the Holy Spirit, there was proclaimed the great supernatural value of St Joseph’s life, the value of an ordinary life of work done in God’s presence and in total fulfillment of his will.