Monday, December 20, 2010

St Joseph, Father of Priests

The Holy Father, taking his cue from the Gospel, dedicated his Angelus talk yesterday to St Joseph, and in doing so, entrusted the pastors of the Church to the Saint's care.  

What a wonderful model for priests - the foster-father of Jesus who put aside all his hopes and dreams, to answer the call of God to become the legal father and protector of the Messiah.  Priests are asked to do the same: to leave everything to follow the Lord, even to diminish so Christ can increase.  Fulton Sheen once said that a priest is not his own, and that is true, and it is part of the struggle of being a priest - dying to oneself, giving of oneself, holding nothing back - as true fatherhood requires. 

But also, like St Joseph, the priest becomes the silent man of the Gospel ("hidden with Christ in God", as St Paul puts it) - not silent in the sense that he does not open his mouth and proclaim the Gospel - he does, but he is silent in the sense that he does not get in the way of the Word of God, but rather proclaims it as given by Christ.    Joseph was silent because he heard the Word of God and did what that Word asked of him, so too with the priest.  That is why it is sad to see and hear priests who teach their own opinions when they judge the Gospel to be "unliveable" or the teachings of the Church lacking in compassion, or old fashioned, or when they seek to curry favour with people or the fashions of an age.  Here the example of humble Joseph who was entrusted with the household of God becomes a model for us.

The Holy Father's talk is here.  And here is another talk the Pope gave on St Joseph in which he proposes him as a model for priests.

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