Patron of the Universal Church
H.H. John Paul II
March 19, 2003
1. Today we are
celebrating the Solemnity of St Joseph, the Husband of Mary (Mt
1,24; Lk 1,27). Scripture points him out to us as the "father"
of Jesus (Lk 2,188.8.131.52.48), prepared to carry out the divine
plan, even when it eluded human understanding. To him, "son of
David" (Mt 1,20; Lk 1,27), God entrusted the safekeeping of the
Eternal Word, made man by the power of the Holy Spirit in the
womb of the Virgin Mary. St Joseph is described in the Gospel as
a "just man" (Mt 1,19), and for all believers he is a model of
life in faith.
A just man
2. The word "just" evokes his moral rectitude, his sincere
attachment to the practice of the law and his attitude of total
openness to the will of the heavenly Father. Even in difficult
and sometimes tragic moments, the humble carpenter of Nazareth
never claimed for himself the right to dispute God's plan. He
awaited the call from on High and in silence respected the
mystery, letting himself be guided by the Lord. Once he received
the mission, he fulfils it with docile responsibility. He
listens attentively to the angel, when he is asked to take as
his wife the Virgin of Nazareth (cf. Mt 1,18-25), in the flight
into Egypt (cf. Mt 2,13-15) and in the return to Israel (cf.
ibid., 2,19-23). In few, but significant strokes, the
Evangelists describe him as the caring guardian of Jesus, an
attentive and faithful husband, who exercises his family
authority in a constant attitude of service. Nothing else is
said about him in the Sacred Scriptures, but this silence
contains the special style of his mission: a life lived in the
greyness of everyday life, but with steadfast faith in
Person, work, society
3. Every day St Joseph had to provide for the family's needs
with hard manual work. Thus the Church rightly points to him as
the patron of workers.
Today's solemnity is also a wonderful occasion to reflect on the
importance of work in the life of the human person, the family
and the community.
The human being is the subject and the primary agent of work,
and in the light of this truth, we can clearly perceive the
fundamental connection between the person, work and society.
Human activity — the Second Vatican Council recalls — proceeds
from the human person and is ordered to the person. According to
God's design and will, it must serve the true good of humanity
and allow "man as an individual and as a member of society to
cultivate and carry out his integral vocation" (cf. Gaudium et
spes, n. 35).
In order to fulfil this mission, a "tested spirituality of human
work" must be cultivated that is firmly rooted in the "Gospel of
work" and believers are called to proclaim and to witness to the
Christian meaning of work in their many activities and
occupations (cf. Laborem exercens, n. 26).
Man of peace
4. May St Joseph, such a great and humble saint be an example
that inspires Christian workers, who should call on him in every
circumstance. Today I wish to entrust to the provident guardian
of the Holy Family of Nazareth the young people who are training
for their future profession, the unemployed, and those who are
suffering from the hardship of the shortage of employment,
families and the whole world of work, with the expectations and
challenges, the problems and prospects that characterize it.
May St Joseph, the Patron of the universal Church, watch over
the entire ecclesial community and, as the man of peace that he
was, may he obtain for all humanity, especially for the peoples
threatened at this time by war, the precious gift of harmony and
[To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors]
I extend a special welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims here
today, including the groups from England, Denmark, Korea, Japan
and the United States and, particularly, to the Choir of St
Cecilia Parish in Houston, Texas. May your visit to Rome be a
time of spiritual enrichment. Upon all of you, I invoke the
grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To young people, the sick and newly-weds
Finally, I greet the young people, the sick, and the newly-weds.
Dear young people, who are here in large numbers, and especially
you students coming from many schools, pray to St Joseph to help
you follow day by day the Lord's desires for you. You, dear sick
people, pray to him to support you in suffering, accepted as a
way to cooperate with the salvation of the world. And you, dear
newly-weds, at the school of the chaste husband of the Virgin
Mary, nourish your heart with prayer and daily docility to the
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