Saint Joseph gives young people “the ability to dream, to risk, and to undertake the difficult tasks that they have seen in dreams.” That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.
The day’s liturgy commemorated the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, which is normally celebrated on 19 March, but which is transferred when that date falls on a Sunday in Lent.
In his homily, Pope Francis focused on the figure of Saint Joseph, the guardian of weaknesses, and of the “dream of God.”
The Gospel of the day tells how Joseph, in obedience to the angel who appeared to him in a dream, took Mary, who had conceived by the Holy Spirit, as his wife. Joseph, silent and obedient, is a man who carries with him the promises of “ancestry, heritage, paternity, sonship, stability”:
“And this man, this dreamer, is able to accept this duty, this grave duty. He has so much to say to us in this time of a strong sense of being orphaned. And so this man takes the promise of God and carries it onward in silence, with strength, he carries it onward so that God’s Will might be done.”
Saint Joseph, the Pope said, is a man “who can tell us many things, but who does not speak,” “the hidden man,” the man of silence, “who has the greatest authority in that moment without letting it be seen.” And the Pope emphasized that the things God confides to the heart of Joseph are “weak things”: promises – and a promise is weak. And then there is the birth of the child, the flight into Egypt, situations of weakness. Joseph takes to heart and carries forward “all these weaknesses” as weaknesses are carried forward: “with so much tenderness,” “with the tenderness with which one takes a child in one’s arms”:
“He is the man who doesn’t speak but obeys, the man of tenderness, the man capable of carrying forward the promises so that they might become solid, certain; the man who guarantees the stability of the Kingdom of God, the paternity of God, our sonship as children of God. I like to think of Joseph as the guardian of weaknesses, of our weaknesses too: he is able to give birth to so many beautiful things from our weaknesses, even from our sins.”
Joseph is the guardian of weaknesses so that they might become firm in faith. But he received this duty in a dream: he is a man “able to dream,” Pope Francis said. And so he is also “the guardian of the dream of God”: God’s dream “of saving all of us,” of redemption, was entrusted to him. “How great was this carpenter!” the Pope exclaimed. He was silent, but he worked, he guarded, he carried forward the weaknesses, and he was capable of dreaming. And so he is a figure who has a message for all:
“Today I want to ask, grant to all of us the ability to dream, that when we dream great things, beautiful things, we might draw near to the dream of God, the things God dreams about us. [I ask] that he might give to young people – because he was young – the capacity to dream, to risk, to undertake the difficult tasks they have seen in dreams. And [I ask] him to give to all of us the faithfulness that tends to grow when we have a just attitude – Joseph was just – [the faithfulness that] grows in silence, with few words; that grows in tenderness that guards our own weaknesses and those of others.”