This is the year of Joe. Not Biden. But the main man in the Nativity scene nearest you (since Jesus there is but a baby, albeit Divine). Earlier this month, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, Pope Francis delivered the news of a year dedicated to Saint Joseph. So we are already a few weeks in.
What the spiritual prescription in these coronavirus times — months of so much hiddenness. Quiet heroism. The little things have taken on a new importance. A year ago, going to the grocery store didn’t seem an act of courage. Neither did getting out of bed in the morning, not in the same way. Charity has taken a front seat. And so has fear. Saint Joseph could have been consumed by fear — it’s quite the news he got about Mary’s pregnancy. Could our cynical times receive such news? And yet, here we are at Christmas, and that’s exactly the invitation — to a renewed humility. An understanding that our newfound universal encounter with weakness in the pandemic is such tremendous strength.
“We must learn to look upon our weaknesses with tender mercy” is how Pope Francis puts it in his proclamation of the Year of Saint Joseph:
Even through Joseph’s fears, God’s will, his history and his plan were at work. Joseph, then, teaches us that faith in God includes believing that he can work even through our fears, our frailties and our weaknesses. He also teaches us that amid the tempests of life, we must never be afraid to let the Lord steer our course. At times, we want to be in complete control, yet God always sees the bigger picture.
So much of what the pope says is so relevant to so much of what we are living through. For instance: “The evil one makes us see and condemn our frailty, whereas the Spirit brings it to light with tender love. Tenderness is the best way to touch the frailty within us. Pointing fingers and judging others are frequently signs of an inability to accept our own weaknesses, our own frailty. Only tender love will save us from the snares of the accuser (cf. Rev 12:10).”
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