May 14, 2021


Mary and Joseph, models for Christian living

During the month of May, the Church gives us the unique opportunity to honor both the woman who gave birth to our Lord and the man who cared for him as his own son.

Each year, we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1, and we dedicate the entire month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This year, we are observing a special Year of St. Joseph proclaimed by Pope Francis to call attention to the singular role that this righteous man played in the life of Jesus and Mary.

Mary and Joseph, together and individually, are models for daily Christian living. They show us how to respond to God’s call in our lives with humility and courage, and they help us accept the challenges and obstacles that we must face as missionary disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Especially in this time of pandemic, social unrest and economic hardships, we are wise to turn to Mary and Joseph with confidence in their ability to inspire and strengthen us in every difficulty.

Throughout the Church’s history, Christians have sought Mary’s intercession in times of serious illness, including pestilence and plagues. As a loving mother, Mary always responds with comfort and the healing grace of her Son.

The Church encourages all of us to seek Mary’s intervention in times of grave crisis, and to seek her help in every troubling circumstance no matter how insignificant it may seem to us. Mary’s loving presence offers courage and hope during frightening times, especially when we are isolated from family and friends. She reassures us and reminds us that we are never alone, never without the consolation and hope won for us by her Son’s suffering, death and resurrection to new life.

Many people today are either out of work or afraid they will lose their jobs because of the wide-ranging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Joseph is the patron of all who labor to support themselves and their families. As a carpenter, he knew both the blessings and the hardships of daily work. Because he understands how important work is for individuals, families and society as a whole, he is in unique position to intercede for all who are poor, unemployed or struggling to survive in these hard times. He also reminds all of us to be good stewards of all God’s gifts and to share generously with others, especially the poor.

One of the most devastating effects of the pandemic—spiritually—has been the fact that millions of people have been denied full access to the sacraments—especially the Eucharist, although thankfully that number is growing smaller as more people are vaccinated and parishes grow in knowledge of how to protect worshipers from the virus.

Mary shows us the way to her Son. She is a sacrament of God’s presence in the world, the gateway to grace and a model for the Church’s prayer and worship.

Those who, for various reasons, continue to be deprived of access to the sacraments and to the liturgy with our sisters and brothers, understandably turn to Mary in the rosary and other devotional prayers to help fill the spiritual gaps that exist in their lives. By proclaiming this Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis has encouraged an increase in devotion to her faithful husband, Joseph, as well.

In this time of worldwide crisis, and in the midst of the violence and social unrest we are experiencing here in Indiana and throughout the U.S., we need wise, prudent and compassionate leadership—now more than ever. Mary and Joseph show us the way to follow their Son, the Good Shepherd. His teaching and example powerfully illustrate the meaning and vital importance of servant leadership.

Now more than ever, we should ask the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary and Joseph—to help all our leaders in society and in the Church set aside their personal and political agendas so that they can place the needs of others first and foremost.

In his letter announcing the Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis offered the following prayer: Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To you God entrusted his only Son; in you Mary placed her trust; with you Christ became man. Blessed Joseph, to us too, show yourself a father and guide us in the path of life. Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage, and defend us from every evil. Amen.

We are blessed to have Mary and Joseph, who are first among all the holy women and men who have given their lives throughout the centuries to follow Jesus, as our sure guides in these troubled times. May their intercession give us the serenity, courage and wisdom to accept God’s will for us and to remain faithful to our baptismal calling to follow Jesus without counting the cost.

—Daniel Conway

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