Homily for the Feast of St. Joseph, by Fr. Joe Tedesco

19 March 2020

We celebrate Joseph. The Church has been celebrating this feast for thousands of years.

This feast of St. Joseph reminds us that the church has been formed by a number of great figures of the New Testament.

Think of Peter, chosen by the Lord to be the great authority figure of the new Community.
Paul the evangelist and writer of so much of what became the New Testament letters.
John – The beloved, the contemplative poetic figure and evangelist.
Mary of course, obedient to the word and faithful Mother of God.
And today, Joseph, husband of Mary, foster father of Jesus. Joseph, a just man, because he acts in a responsible way toward each person preserving their dignity and attentive to their needs. Joseph, a descendent of Abraham, his living faith advances God’s plan. Joseph, from the house of David and a player in the fulfillment of the prophesy of Nathan. Joseph, a virtuous man whose actions, motives and his whole being is characterized by moral values and a well-formed conscience .

We do not know what went through his mind when on three occasions the angel of God visited him in his dreams. We have no record of his words. What we do know of Joseph comes from his actions which tell us that he was attentive to the Spirit of God and open to the word that God had for him. What is so significate is that he always had the courage to carry it out. Joseph follows the tradition of the great man who is the Joseph of Genesis, who saves his people in Egypt. Who also could discern the plan of God in dreams. Making good come from what seemed bad.

Joseph lived in the silence of discernment and faithfulness. He is a witness to the meaning of his name – God shall add – there is always more with God, Joseph’s action brings us the more, moving the revelation of the Incarnation forward. He is always a willing participant in the action of God even when he does not understand what it is all about.

Joseph is the patron of the universal church. As he is the provider and protector of Jesus and Mary. He surely is the patron of monks also. Since he lived the hidden life with Jesus fulfilling his calling dutifully living with such fidelity to God’s word right where life called him. His life reminds us that holiness consists not in extraordinary actions, but in performing our duties faithfully toward God, ourselves and others and doing it very well.

We have so much to learn from Joseph – that God indeed fulfills the promise through the lives and actions of believers. And all those who find the way to respond to the situations of life that are difficult to discern but do it with charity and compassion. What a lesson for us. Like Joseph, do our actions speak to others of faithfulness, of attentiveness to our responsibilities and to the Word of God. Being monks truly living for God alone.

Perhaps the best way to observe this feast would be for each of us to look for Joseph moments in our daily life.
Moments to be virtuous as he was.
Moments that reflect our just response to each person who touches our life.
Moments of silence to hear the angel speaking to us.
Moments of discernment, being able to know God’s command and follow it among all the voices we hear within.
Moments of openness to change – to respond fully to situations that present themselves to us.
Moments of courage to share what needs to be said or acted upon and to do it now.

We want to live out this same servant leadership for the church of Mepkin. So we celebrate St. Joseph who is surely one of the most important patron saints of our Cistercian life. His silent actions of compassion and attention to the will of God make him our hero and model. He trusted the inspirations of God and lived with the deepest faith in God and acted with clarity at every turn. We would do well to imitate him.