Patris Corde 2a: A Tender and Loving Father

In section 2, Pope Francis looks at Joseph as “a tender and loving father.” This portion of the document is Scripture-heavy. While not quoting the saint or in association with him directly, many of these passages cited are something of a meditation on how Saint Joseph can inspire us.

Joseph saw Jesus grow daily “in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favor” (Luke 2:52). As the Lord had done with Israel, so Joseph did with Jesus: he taught him to walk, taking him by the hand; he was for him like a father who raises an infant to his cheeks, bending down to him and feeding him (cf. Hosea 11:3-4).

In Joseph, Jesus saw the tender love of God: “As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).

And here we have a favorite theme of Pope Francis, mercy:

In the synagogue, during the praying of the Psalms, Joseph would surely have heard again and again that the God of Israel is a God of tender love, [Cf. Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalm 69:16; 78:38; 86:5; 111:4; 116:5; Jeremiah 31:20] who is good to all, whose “compassion is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:9).

We have to acknowledge human weakness. As physical beings, it’s true. Even Jesus experienced it. Joseph might have been an outstanding parent, but as a mortal man, his frailty still ended in death. Yet, this man was part of God’s grace-filled plan for salvation. How Jesus acted as a man himself was surely influenced by Joseph.

The history of salvation is worked out “in hope against hope” (Romans 4:18), through our weaknesses. All too often, we think that God works only through our better parts, yet most of his plans are realized in and despite our frailty. Thus Saint Paul could say: “To keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

Since this is part of the entire economy of salvation, we must learn to look upon our weaknesses with tender mercy.[Cf. Evangelii Gaudium 88288]

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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