Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church
How fitting that, during this 4th week of Lent, as Jesus gets closer to Jerusalem and to his death, we celebrate his earthly protector, Joseph. It was Joseph whose willingness to trust a dream, protected Mary from the shame of her inexplicable pregnancy, who refused to have her put to death as the Law dictated. It was Joseph who, trusting another dream, guided his family to a foreign land, protecting Jesus from certain death by a cruel and jealous king. It was Joseph who repeatedly provided a safe home where Jesus could grow in wisdom, age, and grace. Guerric DeBona, OSB in commenting on the Feast of St. Joseph, calls Joseph “the architect for God’s dream (Give Us This Day, March 2012, p. 210).” Without Joseph’s persistent care, Jesus would not have survived; the Gospel would not have been proclaimed.
Joseph was no longer alive to protect Jesus when the Pharisees turned against him and began plotting Jesus’ death. I have a feeling, however, that Jesus thought about his foster father frequently during those last weeks of his life. Perhaps it was--at least in part--Joseph’s example, his tremendous faith and willingness to trust God in the most perplexing situations, that gave Jesus courage to continue despite his awareness of the certain consequences of His words and actions.
Today, as many times in the past, the Church faces challenges and divisions that threaten to tear it apart, to destroy the unity that Jesus prayed for, and the Light and Life and Freedom that He proclaimed. When we get caught up in the turmoil, let us turn to Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church.
Joseph, be again for us today, the architect for God’s Dream, the protector of our Hope in the midst of trials, the reminder of God’s promise, the BUILDER of our Church. Guide us as we struggle to continue the work that Jesus entrusted to us. As you once protected Mary and her unborn infant, protect our vision of a renewed church, a church in which all are safe and sheltered and loved and respected… despite what the law says, or what our neighbors think, or even our own first judgments, weak and limited as they are… Protect the dream for our Church which God has planted in our hearts.