Saint Joseph, an Inspiration

Author: Saju George Aruvelil, SVD
Subject: Saint Joseph
Language: English, Spanish
Year: 2022

Saint Joseph: an inspiration for the members of the Saint Arnold Family

On May 1th of each year, International Workers’ Day is commemorated in tribute to the worker’s unionists who were massacred by the US in 1886, for having made a wage claim. Saint Joseph of Nazareth is the patron saint of (Catholic) workers as instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1955.

Saint Arnold Janssen had a great devotion to Saint Joseph. That is why he had written in the Little Messenger of the Heart of Jesus, of May 1875, that the Patron saints of the mission house would help are: Mary, Saint Michael “and finally the dear and glorious Saint Joseph, the common patron of the Church and special patron of China, the protector of Mary and the adoptive father of Jesus, whom we implore that he will also be our protector.”

Thus, St. Arnold had already anticipated the Pontiffs, for, in recent times they have constantly presented St. Joseph as a “model” of the workers and laborers. For example, Leo XIII, encyclical letter. Quamquam pluries (1889): l.c., p. 180; Benedict XV, Motu Proprio Bonum sane (1920): l.c., pp. 314-316; Pius XII, Allocution (1945), 4: AAS 37; Address (1955): AAS 47, 406; John XXIII, Radio Message (1960): AAS 52, John Paul II, Familiaris consortio, 16: AAS 74 (1982), Redemptoris custos (1989), Benedict XVI, Speech (Sunday March 20, 2011), Francis, Laudato Si´ (2015) 242, Patris Corde (2021).

Together with Mary, “in the holy family of Nazareth, the figure of Saint Joseph stands out. He cared for and defended Mary and Jesus with his work and his generous presence, and freed them from the violence of the unjust by taking them to Egypt. In the Gospel he appears as a just, hard-working, strong man. But from his figure also emerges a great tenderness, which is not typical of the weak but of the truly strong, attentive to reality to love and serve humbly. That is why he was declared custodian of the universal Church. He can also teach us to care, he can motivate us to work with generosity and tenderness to protect this world that God has entrusted to us” (Laudato Si 242).

Saint Joseph has so many virtues to imitate in our missionary dedication. Saint Joseph has been called by God to serve directly to the person and mission of Jesus through the exercise of his fatherhood; in this way he cooperates in the fullness of time in the great mystery of redemption and is truly “minister of salvation” (St. John Chrysostom, In Matth. Hom. V, 3: PG 57, 57-58).

With the incarnation, the “promises” and the “figures” of the Old Testament become “reality”: places, people, events and rites intermingle according to precise divine orders […]. Joseph is the one whom God has chosen to be “the coordinator of the birth of the Lord”, the one who has the task of providing for the “orderly” insertion of the Son of God in the world, in compliance with divine provisions and human laws. The whole of Jesus’ “private” and “hidden” life has been entrusted to his custody (Origen, Hom. XIII in Lucam, 7: S. Ch. 87).

His paternity has been concretely expressed “by having made his life a service, a sacrifice, to the mystery of the incarnation and to the redemptive mission that is linked to it; having made use of the legal authority, which corresponded to him over the Holy Family, to make a total gift of himself, of his life and of his work; having converted his human vocation to domestic love with the superhuman oblation of himself, of his heart and of every capacity, in love placed at the service of the Messiah, who grows in his house” (Cf. Paul VI, Allocution (March 19 1966): Insegnamenti, IV [1966], (p. 110) and Insegnamenti, VII (1969), (p. 1269).

On the threshold of the New Testament, as already at the beginning of the Old Testament, there is a couple. But, while that of Adam and Eve had been the source of the evil that has flooded the world, that of Joseph and Mary constitutes the apex, through which holiness spreads throughout the earth. The Savior has begun the work of salvation with this virginal and holy union, in which his omnipotent will to purify and sanctify the family, sanctuary of love and cradle of life, is manifested. The Church also trusts in the distinguished example of Joseph; an example that goes beyond particular states of life and is proposed to the entire Christian Community, whatever the conditions and functions of each faithful.

From the dimension of JPIC (Cf. vivatinternational.org), precisely from the integrity of Creation, through the option for Integral Ecology, for me Saint Joseph was like a vineyard.

All species propagate their specie. Generally, almost all plants are born through seeds. From the fruits that animals and birds carry and eat the mesocarp fruity part, from these the seeds fall to the ground. There is a reciprocal benefit: while for animals the fruits serve as food, the seeds that fall give rise to the birth of new plants in different places.

But, as for the vineyard, a new plant does not grow from the seeds, but from its root. (Banana, pepper, etc., do not grow from seeds either). So why does the vineyard produce bunches full of grapes? These plants bear fruit, without receiving any benefit in return.

There, the Nature teaches us something very great: everything we have is not for a business, to give something to receive another favor in return. The general rule is to work to earn your daily bread. Thus, in almost all jobs there are mutual benefits, both for: employer and employees, professionals and clients…

This is the elemental instinct of the caveman age. If we don’t grow up and get over this, we won’t be any different from that time, even though we have the technology to step on the Moon, land laboratories on Mars, reach the bottom of the sea, do robotic neurosurgery, etc.

In the family environment and religious life, interpersonal relationships are based on love and not so much on reciprocal benefits. Capitalism often also dilutes this sacred bond. In these circles and among friends, there is seen always a search for selfish interest or personal profit.

Saint Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1, 16) served his darling and the adopted son Jesus, without seeking any personal benefit. Providing the best for them was his main mission. He reveled in his attitude what should motivate us to serve, overcoming the interest of the reward.

As the vineyard mysteriously rejoices in producing and giving grapes for the good of others, saint Joseph was also like the vineyard. May our consecration, missionary work, service and other activities be in the first place to offer the best to others like the vineyard. Then the “Church on the way out”, synodal and missionary, after the pandemic, will be more testimonial.

Like Saint Arnold who “had a strong personal devotion to Saint Joseph and turned to him for all his needs. Many also testify that they received extraordinary help from him”, the members of the founding generation and the other members of the Saint Arnold family who trusted and imitated the simple life and dedication of Saint Joseph, also inspire us. Happy worker’s day.

(Cf. https://janssenfreinademetz.wordpress.com/2021/01/29/veneracion-de-arnoldo-janssen-a-san-jose)

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Saju George Aruvelil, SVD

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