The Loving Father of Jesus

The Heavenly Father invites Joseph to participate in a special way in His eternal fatherhood. The Son of God and Mary will be entrusted to his paternal care and He will address Joseph as “father”.

“He shall cry to me, ‘Thou art my Father’” (Ps 89:26). The Word of God that the Liturgy offers us on this Solemnity of St. Joseph is very rich. It presents us with the words of St. Luke’s Gospel, but it also draws on the great treasure of the Old Testament, especially the Second Book of Samuel and the Book of Psalms.

There is an intimate link between the Old and New Covenants, which St. Paul demonstrates clearly and profoundly in the passage from the Letter to the Romans, read a few moments ago. Who is this who, in the words of the Psalm, cries out: “Thou art my Father”? It is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus’ incessant supplication to the Father

But before these words were spoken by Jesus of Nazareth, the psalmist had expressed them in the context of the Covenant concluded by Yahweh with His people. They are therefore words addressed to the God of the Covenant. Then, addressing himself precisely to God, who is the rock of man’s salvation, Jesus proclaims: “You are my Father”! Using the expression of a son’s utmost trust in his father, He says: “Abba,” my Father!

The Son of God, Son of Mary, conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit, was entrusted to the paternal care of St. Joseph

Abba, my Father! This is what Jesus calls the Father in Heaven, and He makes it possible for us to address Him in the same way, to the One of whom He is the consubstantial and eternal Son. Jesus authorizes us to express ourselves in this way, to pray to the Father in this way.

Today’s Liturgy introduces us in a meaningful way to the prayer that the Son of God incessantly presents to the Heavenly Father.

Joseph’s participation in the paternity of the Eternal Father

At the same time, from His prayerful invocation that focuses on the fatherhood of God, there emerges, in some way, a singular salvific plan concerning the man named Joseph, to whom the Eternal Father entrusted a special participation in His own fatherhood.

The Holy Family – National Museum of the Vice-Roy, Tepotzotlán (Mexico)

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in Her is of the Holy Spirit; She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:20-21). With these words, the Heavenly Father invites Joseph, a descendant of the line of David, to participate in a special way in His eternal fatherhood.

The Son of God, the Son of Mary, conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit, will live at Joseph’s side. He will be entrusted to his paternal care. He will address Joseph – a human being – as “father”.

Joseph, “your father”

When Jesus was only twelve years old, did His Mother not say to Him in the Temple in Jerusalem: “Son, why have You treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for You anxiously” (Lk 2:48). When speaking of Joseph, Mary uses the expression “your father”.

Jesus’ response to His parents on that occasion was quite unique: “How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). Jesus thus reveals the profound truth of His divine filiation: the truth concerning the Father, who “so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

He to whom the Eternal Father confided his Son also extends his protection over the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church

The Child Jesus replies to Mary and Joseph: “I must be in my Father’s house.” Although at first glance these words seem to overshadow Joseph’s “fatherhood”, in reality they highlight it even more as the loving fatherhood of the unique “descendant of David”, Joseph of Nazareth.

Protector of the Church

This, dear brothers and sisters, is the central point of today’s liturgical solemnity: the loving fatherhood of St. Joseph. He is the guardian and protector who, together with his vocation as the putative father of the Redeemer, received from Divine Providence the mission of protecting His growth in wisdom, age and grace.

In the litanies dedicated to him, we invoke him with marvellous titles. We call him “Illustrious son of David”, “Light of the patriarchs”, “Spouse of the Mother of God”, “Chaste guardian of the Virgin”, “Foster-father of the Son of God”, “Watchful defender of Christ”, and “Head of the Holy Family”.

With an expression that sums up the biblical truth about him, we invoke him as “Protector of Holy Church”. This invocation is deeply rooted in the revelation of the New Covenant. The Church is, in fact, the Body of Christ. Was it not therefore logical and necessary that the one to whom the Eternal Father entrusted His Son should also extend his protection over this Body of Christ which – according to the teaching of the Apostle Paul – is the Church? […]

“You are my father”… Most faithful Joseph, we turn to you. Do not cease to intercede for us; do not cease to intercede for the whole human family! ◊

Excerpts from:
Homily, 19/3/1993



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