In his recent Apostolic Letter, Patris Corde, Pope Francis stresses the importance of devotion to St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. The pandemic prompted the Holy Father to reflect that “Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.”
In these times of difficulty, St. Joseph is a perfect example of fortitude and trust. Every time he was faced with a crisis — such as protecting the Holy Family against Herod’s mission to kill the newborn Christ — St. Joseph responded with filial trust in God. Crises, even personal ones, did not dampen St. Joseph’s faith, but provided him an opportunity to love and sacrifice all the more. Too often, we equate personal hardship, suffering, and disappointment with unfairness. Why does God permit those he loves to suffer, and often in such traumatic ways?
Though we do not find any recorded words of St. Joseph, his life mirrors trust in the divine plan of salvation, and teaches us how to do the same. In the new year, we expect that things will get better; that a vaccine and its plentiful distribution will allow us to return to normalcy. But the truth is, even when the pandemic ceases, other difficulties will soon surface. So long as we live on this earth, we cannot escape them. We can complain to God, like the Israelites, that everything is unfair. Or we can trust in God’s plan, like St. Joseph even if we can’t immediately see its fruits. If we humbly submit to God, above and beyond our egos, He will surprise us.
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