Solemnity of Saint Joseph

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Mass at Saint Joseph High School, South Bend – March 19, 2019

I’d like to begin this homily with giving some advice to all the young women here present, advice that I give to my nieces about dating and about choosing a future husband, if God is calling you to marriage. Now you may smile like my nieces who say, “Uncle Kevin, you’re giving us advice on dating?” “Bishop, you’re giving us dating advice?” Yes, and I hope you will think about it seriously. In looking for a guy to be a close friend and a potential husband, my advice is, look for one who has the virtues of Saint Joseph. And to all the young men here, I offer you the advice I give to my nephew on how to be a real man: Imitate Saint Joseph!

When I gave the advice to one of my nieces to look for a guy like Saint Joseph, she asked me what I meant. I said to her: “What do you think were the greatest attributes of Saint Joseph?” She thought about it for a minute and replied: “He was faithful to God and he loved Mary and Jesus with all his heart.” Precisely, I said.

The Gospel uses one adjective to describe Saint Joseph. Saint Matthew tells us that Joseph was “a righteous man.” So young men, strive to be righteous. Young women, only go out with righteous men. What does it mean to be righteous? How was Saint Joseph righteous? My niece understood when she said Joseph was faithful to God. In Hebrew, a righteous or just man was one who was a good and faithful servant of God, someone who did God’s will, who obeyed God’s commandments. Another aspect of being righteous in the Jewish faith was being honorable and charitable towards one’s neighbor. We know Saint Joseph was all these things. When he was confused about Mary’s pregnancy, he wanted to do the honorable thing and not expose her to shame. After the angel revealed to Joseph in a dream that Mary had conceived through the Holy Spirit, he told Joseph to take Mary into his home. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”

So, young women, look for a man who is righteous like Joseph, a man who desires to keep God’s commandments, a man who is honorable, who seeks to do God’s will and is charitable toward others. Young men, this is real manhood. Ask Saint Joseph to help you to be good and faithful servants of the Lord.

There’s another important virtue of Saint Joseph: humility. Young women, did you ever meet a guy who talks about himself nonstop, who brags all the time about his accomplishments, who tries to impress you about all he can do and hardly even listens to you or doesn’t show much interest in you or your life? My advice – stay away. If you’re on a date with him, make sure it’s your last date!

Think about Saint Joseph. There’s a lot he could have bragged about. He could have proudly proclaimed that he was of the lineage of King David. He could have gone around telling people: “I walked all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem in sandals” or “I helped my wife give birth in a stable… without a doctor.” But there was no such pride in Joseph. As a matter of fact, we don’t even have any spoken word of Saint Joseph in the Gospels. This is significant. It shows his humility. His life wasn’t all about him à his life was all about his wife and son, about Mary and Jesus. They were his focus, not himself. And as my niece said, he loved them with all his heart. He protected them from the harm of King Herod and took them to Egypt.

Young women, look for a guy who has the virtue of humility, who will be a husband who cares more about you than himself and who would be a loving, tender and protective father of your children. Guys, this is real manhood: Imitate the humble, self-giving love of Saint Joseph. This is not being weak. It takes strength and courage to put others first and to be willing to give your life for your wife and children. And young men, if God is calling you to the priesthood, this same virtue is needed – the strength and courage to give your lives in self-giving love for another Bride, the Church.

Young ladies, there’s another virtue I encourage you to look for in men, one that may be more difficult to find in today’s culture. That virtue is chastity. The Church speaks of Saint Joseph as Mary’s most chaste spouse. Joseph protected the virginity of Mary. He lived in complete chastity. He had total respect for Mary and would never use her as an object of his sexual desires. I encourage you to only go out with guys who respect you and your bodies, who will make a commitment with you to wait until marriage to enter into that sacred communion of your bodies in sexual union. And guys, in the struggle to live in chastity, ask Saint Joseph to intercede for you to obtain God’s grace and strength to be chaste. This really takes courage today since our culture not only doesn’t value chastity, it often ridicules it.

So these are three of the virtues of Saint Joseph that I encourage all to contemplate: righteousness, humility, and chastity. In this high school under the patronage of Saint Joseph, I pray you learn to live these virtues. Make a visit to your chapel and meditate on these virtues. Ask the Lord to help you to grow in these virtues of your patron saint.

What a great feast day it is for two students here to receive the new life of Christ in Baptism: Aaliya Lax and Walter Wesson. Aaliya and Walter, you are already part of the family of Saint Joseph High School. Today you will become part of God’s family, the Church. Through the sacrament of Baptism, you will be freed from sin and reborn as children of God. You will become members of Christ and incorporated into the Church. This is a cause of much joy for you and this community of faith. Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift. With love, the Church also embraces you today and we pray that you will always walk in the light of the Lord and faithful to the baptismal promises you make today.

After the Baptism of Aaliya and Walter, I will receive Jessica Brandt into full communion in the Catholic Church. This is also a cause of rejoicing for us. Jessica, who was already baptized a Christian, will become a Catholic. She is already our sister in Christ. Today she enters into full communion with Christ’s Church, recognizing the fullness of grace and truth that Jesus has entrusted to the Catholic Church.

Nayeli Belmares, who is Catholic, will join Jessica, Aaliya, and Walter in receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. These four faith-filled students will be enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. They will be anointed with the perfumed oil of chrism, a sign that they are called to bring the fragrance of Christ into the world – His goodness and love. They will be marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit, the seal that means they belong to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will strengthen them to be true witnesses to Christ in their words and actions.

Finally, Jessica, Aaliyah, and Walter will join us for the first time at the Eucharistic table of the Lord. They will receive Christ’s Body and Blood in this sacrament of His love. Throughout the rest of your lives, Walter, Aaliya and Jessica, you will be nourished by this bread from heaven, the bread of life, Jesus Himself present under the signs of bread and wine.

The graces of these sacraments are pretty overwhelming. I pray Walter, Aaliya, Jessica and Nayeli, that you will always remember this day of grace, March 19th, the feast of Saint Joseph, and that you will grow in God’s grace, in holiness, through the rest of your lives. That’s my prayer for all of us here. May Joseph of Nazareth help us with his prayers to be faithful disciples of his adopted Son and to become saints!