In silent service

Today, in Honduras, we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph as Fathers Day – as is only fitting.

St. Joseph, Gracias, Lempira, Honduras

St. Joseph, Gracias, Lempira, Honduras

In many families here the father is absent – some have gone to the big cities or the United States to seek a job to support their families, others have abandoned the woman (or women) who bore their children. In some families the father is aloof but I have seen many instances of fathers showing a profound tenderness for their wife and children.

These days I find myself developing a deeper sense of devotion to Joseph. He is, after all, my confirmation patron saint. He was also the patron saint of the high school I attended.

But, above all, I am beginning to appreciate how he could – in silence, in loving service – put aside his plans and open his life to the call of God.

He was not attached to a false sense of his “autonomy” or to doing what he wanted to express his individuality. He recognized that responding to the call of God and changing our plans can open us to the grace in the deepest recesses of our souls.

He is the saint who worked in the shadows but put God first in a life of loving service.

I think Jesuit Father Alfred Delp, writing from a Nazi prison, puts it well:

Joseph is the man on the outskirts, standing in the shadows, silently waiting, there when wanted and always ready to help. He is the man in whose life God is constantly intervening with warnings and visions. Without complaint he allows his own plans to be set aside. . . .
Willing, unquestioning service is the secret of his life. It is his message for us and his judgment of us. We have crabbed and confined God within the pitiable limits of our obstinacy, our complacency, our mania for ‘self expression.’ We have given God only the minimum of recognition…

Joseph’s silent yes to the angel speaks to me of the call to be “here” for others, quietly accompanying them, in love.

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