Sunday, May 3, 2015

Homily of Pope Francis At the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry Of the Bishop of Rome

In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife (Mat. 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: He is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church.

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discretely, humbly, and silently, but with unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be protector of Mary, Jesus, and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans and not simply on his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, 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!