Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Solemnity of St. Joseph; Catholic Mens Fellowship of Maryland Conference

Solemnity of St. Joseph
Catholic Mens Fellowship of Maryland Conference
March 19, 2022
St. Joseph, Fullerton


After a two-year hiatus, the Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Maryland has returned! It is wonderful to see all of you here! We have gathered here in Fullerton at St. Joseph Parish on the Feast Day of St. Joseph. I would like to greet Fr. Jesse Bolger, the Pastor, and his co-workers for warmly welcoming this Conference and ensuring that it will run smoothly. With you, I want to thank Ed Roberts and his Board, together with the priests who are serving as confessors, our speakers, our volunteers, and the ministers of this liturgy.

Gathered at St. Joseph Parish on the Feast of St. Joseph, it seems to me that we are invited to reflect on who St. Joseph is and what his life and example means to us as Catholic men of the 21st century. What are the lessons of his life? What are the takeaways? As you know, Pope Francis dedicated 2021 as “The Year of St. Joseph” – and during that year, he highlighted what he called Joseph’s “creative courage”. I would like to highlight that same theme with you this morning. Joseph modelled that creative courage which men of today need in our role as believers, as husbands, fathers, and priests, the creative courage we need to live the faith in today’s society.

The Story of Joseph

All of us are familiar with the story of St. Joseph. As we saw in the first read, Nathan prophesied to David that God would raise up an heir who would make his kingdom firm. That heir was Solomon but Solomon, wise at first, became foolish, and, as a matter of history, the house of David seemed to crumble – except that David continued to have descendants, among whom was Joseph. Centuries after David lived, God fulfilled his promise to David by selecting Joseph to be the guardian and protector of his Incarnate Son, the One whose reign will never end.

It was an unlikely choice, this hardworking carpenter from the humble town of Nazareth. Joseph possessed none of the trappings of royal power. No, he possessed something much greater. He was a man of deepest faith, who longed for the deliverance God had promised, a man who had mastered himself, who subordinated his desires and plans to God’s, a man who was open and obedient to whatever God asked of him, a man who was ready to fulfill God’s plans with great resourcefulness. Joseph was the man God chose. God knew what he was doing.

We have often read about and reflected on Joseph’s unique vocation. In today’s Gospel, we read how God told Joseph in a dream to take Mary as his wife, and that the Son to be born would be the long-awaited Messiah. Whenever we hear that Gospel passage, we should be amazed at Joseph’s reaction. Scripture says, when he awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him. Joseph had a strong faith, on a par with that of Abraham. A man of justice and prudence, Joseph foresaw the difficulties. He was undaunted. Instead of making backing out or making excuses, he took Mary as his wife, he loved her with a chaste and beautiful love, and when they made the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Joseph was most creative, most resourceful in providing for both mother and child. No excuses. No complaining. No doubts. He found the way to get it done.

Joseph’s resourceful creative courage did not stop with the Nativity of the Christ. It continued as Joseph and his little family fled into Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath. It left an indelible mark on the holy home at Nazareth where Joseph provided for his family as a carpenter, taught Jesus his trade, and modeled for Jesus what it means to be a man of creative courage. If we listen closely to Jesus’ teaching and observe him as he undergoes his passion, we can discern the lessons that his foster-father taught him as a youth. We owe more to St. Joseph than perhaps we realize.

What Joseph Means to Us

What does the life and example of St. Joseph mean to us? I would say that his life and example are more important than ever, living as we do in a culture and a society in which marriage, family, and fatherhood are under attack, and the notion of masculinity has become blurred and confused.

Sometimes the reaction to all of that is machismo. You don’t need to know a word of Spanish to know what machismo is. It’s like pretending we have to be 800-pound gorillas to get respect. Machismo is conforming to all the stereotypes our culture throws at us when it says that men who accept their identity are cruel and insensitive bullies. Joseph helps us to throw off those stereotypes.

Instead, he teaches you and me to be men of bedrock faith, who have had the courage to entrust the whole of our lives to God. He teaches us that if we would entrust our lives to God, we have to master ourselves, and overcome sins and sinful attitudes that put us at enmity with God, for no one at enmity with God can intentionally cooperate with his plans. Joseph teaches us how to say “yes” to God even when we have questions, and to roll up our sleeves when we know God is calling us to do something, whether it is for our families, our parish, our for someone who needs our help. St. Joseph also teaches us how to be fathers – physical and spiritual. He did this by his strong and tender love for Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, and for Jesus whom he loved as a father and for whom he modeled manhood. That’s the kind of love we are to have as husbands and fathers, a love that is strong but gentle, humble but resourceful. We earn God’s respect and the respect of others, not when we are blustery, but when we possess a quiet strength that comes from truly knowing God, truly welcoming God’s Presence into our inmost souls, and allow God’s strength to take root in the deepest root of our being. A faith that skims the surface won’t do.

Real Presence

We can also say that Joseph lived in the Real Presence of Christ. The house of Nazareth was filled with Presence of the Incarnate Son of God. Joseph drew strength from the One he was called to care for. Therefore, if we would imitate St. Joseph’s creative courage, we too must live in the Presence of Christ, and for us that means receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation often and worthily; it means never missing Sunday Mass and going to Mass on weekdays when we can; it means never passing up an opportunity for Eucharistic Adoration. This is how we live in the Presence of Christ, and it from Christ himself that we derive the strength to be men of faith who put their faith into action.

As we complete the Year of the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and prepare to participate in the national Eucharistic Revival in the years ahead, let us ask good St. Joseph to watch over us, to pray for us that our Eucharistic faith may grow ever stronger and that we in turn might be stronger as men of faith and creative courage. And may God bless us and keep us always in his love!

Archbishop William E. Lori

Archbishop William E. Lori was installed as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore May 16, 2012.

Prior to his appointment to Baltimore, Archbishop Lori served as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., from 2001 to 2012 and as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington from 1995 to 2001.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Lori holds a bachelor's degree from the Seminary of St. Pius X in Erlanger, Ky., a master's degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977.

In addition to his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori serves as Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and is the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.