Solemnity of Saint Joseph

Author Image

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 ha