Votive Mass in honor of St. Joseph
November 6, 2021
Knights of Columbus State Deputies Mid-Year Meeting
The theme of our convention for this fraternal year centers on the “creative courage” of St. Joseph, the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph who loved the Child Jesus with a tender, fatherly love. This morning, in keeping with that theme, we are celebrating a Votive Mass in honor of St. Joseph and will draw from today’s Scripture readings two important virtues in his life, first, his obedient faith, and second, his trustworthiness. These two virtues ought to stand out in us as Knight of Columbus, and especially in us who are leaders among our brother knights in the Order.
We begin with the obedience of faith. Today’s first reading comes from the closing words of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. After expressing his gratitude for his co-workers in the Lord’s vineyard, St. Paul turns his gaze on the God who manifested himself to us in Christ Jesus. St. Paul prays earnestly that, as the Gospel is proclaimed far and wide, countless people will be brought to “the obedience of faith”.
What does that phrase mean, “the obedience of faith”? It means that due to the working of God’s grace, our hearts are repaired, cleansed, transformed and fully attuned to God’s will, especially to God’s mysterious plan for the Redemption of the world. Thus we become “cooperators in truth”, cooperators in God’s truth, who are not only hearers of the word but doers of the word, those who put our faith into action.
In his letter Patris Corde (which means, “with a father’s heart”), Pope Francis describes the obedient faith of St. Joseph. Drawing on the Scriptures, our Holy Father reminds us how God revealed the heart of his saving plan to St. Joseph in three dreams. These were not the ordinary mixed-up dreams that disturb our sleep, but were more like a prophetic state in which St. Joseph truly heard God’s voice. In each case, upon awaking, St. Joseph believed and proceeded to do the will of God. Following the first dream, Joseph welcomed Mary into her home, Mary who was with child conceived by the Holy Spirit. After his second dream, St. Joseph obediently took Mary and the Child Jesus to Egypt to protect Jesus from Herod’s murderous designs, his mysterious iniquity. A third dream instructed Joseph to bring his family to safety in Galilee.
St. Joseph demonstrated the obedience of faith in other ways. Think of the arduous journey of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem, undertaken according to God’s mysterious design as the setting for Jesus’ birth. Think of how Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple in obedience to the Law. It could even be said that Jesus, in his human nature, learned from St. Joseph what it means to seek out and to do the will of the heavenly Father. In all these ways, St. Joseph teaches us that the obedience of faith means not only hearing what faith teaches, but also putting it into action, “faith-in-action”.
St. Joseph’s vocation to foster the earthly life of Jesus is, of course, unique, but all of us have been called to the obedience of faith. Fr. McGivney envisioned his Knights, above all, as men of obedient faith, who, with their wives and children would live their vocation to the fullest. He envisioned his Knights as disciples of the Lord who, in partnership with their wives, would put faith into action by works of charity that manifest Christ’s own charity. Fr. McGivney was himself a priest of obedient faith, as with a father’s love, he gave of himself so very completely to his parishioners and his brother knights.
Trustworthiness is a second virtue of St. Joseph, and we find it in today’s Gospel where Jesus teaches his disciples that ‘the person who is trustworthy in small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.’ In a world of sham and deception, trustworthiness is a golden virtue to which you and I should ardently aspire, and we see it exemplified in the life and vocation of St. Joseph.
In choosing Joseph to care with a father’s love for the Incarnate Son of God, the eternal Father recognized in St. Joseph a man of utmost integrity, a man who perhaps had no idea what God had in mind for him but nonetheless went about his daily life and work with honesty and reliability. Joseph, a descendant of David, was part of the remnant of Israel, faithful men and women who eagerly awaited the fulfillment of God’s promises. It was to this man that God the Father entrusted the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child of her immaculate womb, our Incarnate Savior. Having been found trustworthy in small matters, God the Father entrusted Joseph with the greatest of all responsibilities, namely, to care for the One upon whom the entire history of the world hangs, the One who came into the world to save us from sin and death.
Both in fact and in lore, Knights were to be men noble in their trustworthiness and it is to this nobility that Fr. McGivney called us when he gave us the title of “knight”. He called us “knights” to challenge us to be persons of highest integrity, those whose word is our bond, those who are reliable, those who seek not our own glory or aggrandizement, but rather as those who can be counted on reliably to fulfill our responsibilities – in the Order and in every other sector of their lives – at home and at work. The priest who called us to this virtue was himself most worthy of trust, for he exercised his priestly ministry utmost integrity and utter reliability. When good faithful Catholic men, potential candidates for the Knights of Columbus, see in us this virtue of trustworthiness, they will want to join us, for they will see in the Order a source of support for their own growth in virtue.
So let us invoke St. Joseph this morning, asking him to pray with us and for us, that our lives may be characterized by obedient faith and by trustworthiness, qualities that befit those who would lead, guide, and serve the world’s largest lay Catholic organization founded in the genius of Blessed Michael McGivney’s holiness. St. Joseph, pray for us! Vivat Jesus!