By Francesca Merlo
Continuing his reflections on the figure of St Joseph, Pope Francis addressed the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall for his weekly General Audience by noting that these catecheses are complementary to the Apostolic Letter Patris corde, which were written on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of St Joseph as Patron of the Catholic Church by Blessed Pius IX.
With that in mind, the Pope posed the question: What does it mean that St Joseph is "patron of the Church"?
The Pope explained that the Gospels provide us with the most correct interpretation.
“At the end of every story in which Joseph is the protagonist”, began the Pope, “the Gospel notes that he takes the Child and his mother with him and does what God has ordered him to do.” He always does what he must to protect them both, noted the Pope.
Nucleus of the Church
Pope Francis explained that in God's plan of salvation, “the Son cannot be separated from the Mother”, adding that the Second Vatican Council reminds us of this.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph are in a sense the primordial nucleus of the Church,” as the Apostolic Letter Patris corde reminds us, we too "must always ask ourselves whether we are protecting with all our strength Jesus and Mary, who are mysteriously entrusted to our responsibility, our care, our custody."
God trusted Joseph, continued the Pope, as did Mary, as He always “took care of her and the Child.”
In this sense, "St Joseph cannot but be the Custodian of the Church, because the Church is the extension of the Body of Christ in history, and at the same time in the maternity of the Church the maternity of Mary is overshadowed. Joseph, in continuing to protect the Church, continues to protect the Child and his mother, and we too, in loving the Church, continue to love the Child and his mother."
Caring for all
The Pope then went on to explain that this same child is the one that will express that everyone must be cared for: “every person who is hungry and thirsty, every stranger, every person without clothes, every sick person, every prisoner is the 'Child' whom Joseph looks after.”
He added that in the times in which we live “it is common to criticise the Church, to point out its inconsistencies, its sins”, which in reality, continued the Pope, “are our inconsistencies, our sins, because the Church has always been a people of sinners who encounter God's mercy.”
Bringing his catechesis to a close, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful gathered to “ask for the intercession of St Joseph, precisely at the most difficult times in the life of you and of your communities.”
How many saints have turned to him, concluded the Pope. “Let us imitate their example.”