St. Joseph attracts us by his normality, and at the same time, for his closeness to the mystery of God. A reflection on the occurrence of the the 150th anniversary of his declaration as patron of the universal Church.

Speaking about St. Joseph requires silence.

In fact, God placed St. Joseph closer than any other man to the event of the Incarnation, in its most secret and private beginnings. Closer than any other man to the Son of God who abandoned himself defenselessly to the hands of men, totally dependent on their reception. Joseph was put close to the Virgin, in the intimacy of his home, and became familiar with her thoughts, with her prayer, with the way that she was always and completely in dialogue with God.

Speaking about Joseph demands utmost respect given the delicate task that was entrusted to him.

In this extraordinary human story, greatness and humility are melted and molded into one, making him resemble his spouse. In fact, the task received from God was as vertiginous as it was quotidian. It was vertiginous because he was asked to collaborate with the highest calling ever addressed to a person: the divine motherhood of Mary. He was asked to be considered by those around him as the father of Jesus, who was indeed called the son of Joseph. His vocation was also vertiginous because he was asked to unite virginity and true nuptial love for Mary.

Joseph’s mission was played out entirely within an ordinary life, mostly hidden. The meaning of the life of Joseph is completely bound to the thirty years of the so-called private life of Jesus. Today, we can contemplate the universal value of his sanctity and venerate him as patron and protector of the whole Church. In the years he spent on the earth, however, that same sanctity had a ray that we could call domestic. Sure, we don’t need to imagine the family of Nazareth as a modern unit of three. Joseph and Mary shared their married life and were constantly inserted within a larger circle of relatives. And nevertheless, Joseph had a task that was carried out for the most part within a familiar dimension. The friendship and communion with Mary, the sharing of difficulties and decisions, work and prayer, the many questions raised by and thoughts dedicated to the mystery of the presence of Jesus, and later, the attention to His words and the openness to a new horizon within the faith he had inherited from his forefathers: these were the things that Joseph lived. But in the house of Nazareth, that which was small became ineffable. In the small things he was called to live, together with Mary, for years, Joseph consciously lent his service to the inaccessible work of God that in the family had taken the face of a baby. In this way, Joseph introduces us to the world of love. His figure attracts us because of its normality, and at the same time, it stupefies us because of the disproportion between what was asked of him and his natural human capacities.

Everything true that begins on the earth is destined to last forever.

The life of an artisan, spent between a humble workshop or maybe even in the luxurious work sites of his time, and a house carved out of a grotto, may contain the seed of an eternal glory. The same is true for the lives of many of us, which are carried out in the simplicity of the occupations of everyday life, and which do not command particular attention, but welcome the event of true and faithful love. “Certainly Christ” wrote Bernardino of Siena with moving delicacy, “did not deny Joseph in heaven that familiarity, that reverence and that highest dignity that he had shown him when he lived among men, as a son to his father; quite the opposite: he brought it to the maximum perfection”. Neither will Christ deny to us, who love him here on the earth as a sweet friend and master, his eternal gaze full of affection and esteem.

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