By: Father Jilson Tom, C.S.C. on October 19th, 2021
The Presentation: St. Joseph, the Model of Obedience and Faith of Families
Saying “yes” to the challenging role of the foster father of the Son of God and head of the household of the Holy Family speaks volumes about Joseph’s faith and obedience to God. In fulfillment of prophecy, God chose Joseph, a descendant of David from the tribe of Judah, to participate in His plan of salvation. He was to be the guardian of the Messiah, the one who would save His people from their sins.
God had approached him in the night through an angel who said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son, and you will name Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.”
Joseph did not hesitate to obey despite the uncertainties and hardship that came along with his obedience. The angel request had confounded him, because Jewish law required man to divorce a woman who was found to be pregnant out of wedlock. His first reaction was to put Mary away privately, but the angel had said to take her into his home, so he did. He obeyed because, as a devout Jew, he had learned to listen to God and trusted Him. Taking Mary into his home was the pivotal point of St. Joseph’s calling to be the foster father of Jesus and later of the universal Church. Adherence to this calling from God was radical and required deep faith and courage, considering his Jewish background. However, his radical obedience tells us clearly that obedience is both critical and essential to our faith.
In his address to the general public, St. John Paul II, on the occasion of the Solemnity of Saint Joseph on 19 March 2003, explained this “just” characteristic of St. Joseph as an “attitude of total openness to the will of the Heavenly Father. He awaited the call from on High and in silence respected the mystery, letting himself be guided by the Lord.” Once he said “yes,” Joseph’s reality changed. He began his silent journey of everyday service as the responsible, humble, and faithful husband capable of chaste and supernatural love for his wife, Mary, and guardian of the Redeemer.
In his encyclical Redemptoris Custos, dedicated to Joseph, the Guardian of the Redeemer, St. John Paul II once again highlights Joseph’s unique nature of obedience. He says, “Through his complete self-sacrifice, Joseph expressed his generous love for the Mother of God and gave her a husband’s ‘gift of self.’ Even though he decided to draw back so as not to interfere in the plan of God, which was coming to pass in Mary, Joseph obeyed the explicit command of the angel and took Mary into his home while respecting the fact that she belonged exclusively to God.” What graces of obedience and faith God granted St. Joseph to understand this in his heart!
Saint Joseph is the perfect model of obedience submitting his life, his will, his desires to follow the calling God had entrusted to him. He allowed himself to be guided by a mysterious plan that his intellect did not understand and that did not go with his will. His life teaches us that it is in the poverty of our will we find our richness. Saint Joseph found this richness daily during his upbringing and daily as he and his wife Mary devoted their lives to raising their son, Jesus. Like Joseph, we must often obey God’s call without seeing the whole path ahead. When we willingly listen to God and accept His will, God will dispel our doubts and uncertainties.
May we imitate the unity of the Holy Family held firm by fidelity to the alliance of love manifested in their constant communion of Hearts. May we learn from St. Joseph the harmony between meditation of the Word and our daily tasks with a contemplative heart to imitate St. Joseph in obeying God. Obedient Joseph, pray for us!
This October, the Month of the Rosary, “Go to Joseph.” Grow in the faith with your family. Global Prayer Campaign filled with videos, eBooks, podcasts, prayers, reflections, social posts, everything you need for a rich, faith-filled month.
About Father Jilson Tom, C.S.C.
Father Jilson Tom, C.S.C. is from the Northeast India Province of Holy Cross. A native of Kerala, Father Jilson has been serving in a parish and school ministry since his ordination twelve years ago. He joins the Family Rosary team as an Assistant, while he works to study Pastoral Counseling in the Boston area. With a personal devotion to Mother Mary, Father Jilson is thrilled to be working to enhance family prayer through the Rosary. And if you ever need a listening ear or want to play a board game, Father Jilson’s your guy!