My Dear Friends,
The day after we closed the church due to the pandemic back in March, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of St. Joseph. On this Father’s Day, we turn to St. Joseph because he is not only the patron of fathers, but he is also the patron of the Church: a just and strong man who we can turn to as Mary and a young Jesus did when they had to go into exile. Joseph is that steady hand who God entrusted the care of the Holy Family to by making him the head of that family. During turbulent times, it is good to turn to St. Joseph and to seek his intercession.
Quick story Father’s Day story about St. Joseph: when I made my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land some years ago, I took my parents with me. It had always been my mother’s dream to visit the land of our Lord. Everyone dreams about how they’ll react or what they’ll feel in certain places and shrines, but there was one that totally and unexpectedly moved me. Obviously, my father and I, since we love fishing, were very much looking forward to sailing on the Sea of Galilee. I even went as far as asking my tour guide if fishing gear was part of the boat voyage (alas, it wasn’t). Yet the day before, my dad and I shared a powerful moment in Nazareth. Right next to the Church of the Annunciation where the angel appeared to Mary and where Jesus was conceived, stands the Church of St. Joseph or “Joseph’s Workshop.” It is a church surrounding the home of the Holy Family and where Joseph put his carpentry gifts to use. When we toured this church, there were many tourists and pilgrims so we got only a quick glance of what is left of the workshop, but as we made our way back to tour the rest of the church, I noticed that there was no line going back into Joseph’s workshop. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my father looking intently at other parts of the church, and I walked over and asked him to come with me back into the workshop.
We went in and there was no one else around. We stood there staring at these ruins, and as is the case in the majority of the Holy Land shrines, one has to picture Joseph teaching young Jesus how to be a carpenter. In that moment, I thought about the times as a child that my father would take me out to our tool shed in the backyard to teach me how to do certain manual labors, about how he would get frustrated because I wouldn’t pay attention, and the saintly patience he had with a kid who more often than not had his head in the clouds. I learned many valuable life lessons from my father doing manual labor around the house, and I meditated that day standing there alone with my father on all the lessons that Joseph imparted on Jesus. Think about that for a second. The son of God learning from a simple carpenter. This was part of God’s plan. Humility personified and learning from a good and just Jewish man who was betrothed to Mary.
So, by being born into a family, God exalts all families and exalts all mothers and fathers. Today we remember all our fathers, living and deceased, who taught us so much. God placed the father, as he did St. Joseph, at the head of the household to be a model of holiness. Modern society has sadly altered what a father is and is not, and even diminished the importance of this day. Yes, we have many children who did not have good experiences with their fathers or did not know them at all, and this day is a struggle for them. However, we cannot let the poor example of a few diminish the heroic virtue of so many dads who sacrifice so much for their families. St. Joseph put all his dreams to the side and took Mary into his home to follow God’s will and to raise Jesus. So many fathers do the same by placing God, their wives, and their children above their personal interests and ambitions. We celebrate them today, and we commend all our fathers to the paternal intercession of their patron, St. Joseph.
Happy Father’s Day.
God bless you all,