By Bishop José Luis IMC
On May 1, the Diocese launched the “Year of St Joseph”
and the “Year of the Family” at St Joseph Parish (Mzimpofu)
Below is what I shared during the homily
It was last December when Pope Francis asked the Church all over the world to celebrate a Year of St Joseph (08 December 2020 – 08 December 2021). He later asked also to celebrate a Year of the Family (19 March 2021 – June 2022).
We had planned to do our diocesan launching on 19 March 2021 but due to the COVID19 restrictions we decided to wait until today.
How should we celebrate the year of St Joseph? How can we – reading on Joseph in the Gospels – celebrate his life, his faith, his intercession for each one of us and for the Church?
Prayer. Prayer is always the first thing we do. We have in fact prepared a booklet of prayers asking for St Joseph’s intercession.
Learn to listen. While the Gospels tell us about Joseph we do not find any word said by him. It is something unique. We can quote Mary, Paul, Peter, John… but not Joseph. Joseph calls us to learn to listen or to improve our listening.
We love preachers and we love to preach. We use many words in our prayers. How often do we listen?
Parents are called to listen to their children and children to their parents. The bishop, the clergy, the religious and the laity are called to listen to each other.
We are also called to ask ourselves: who don’t we normally listen to? Do we listen to the poor, the people with disabilities? We help them but, do we listen to them?
Ask God to reveal his will in your life. When Joseph came to know that Mary was pregnant he discerned the best way forward. He probably found the best possible way but God had other plans. Joseph was able to move from his own plan to God’s plan.
In our prayer, we normally tell God what we would like to do, what we hope will happen in our lives… Do we ever ask God to reveal what He plans for us?
Have you ever wondered what would have happened had Joseph not listened, had Joseph not followed God’s plan…? The best thing is that Joseph never feels “frustrated”. On the contrary. Do we trust that God’s plan for us is the best that can happen to us?
Do not be afraid. In today’s Gospel passage God reveals to Joseph his will: “Do not be afraid to take Mary…”. It was not an easy thing to do. Joseph knew that Mary was pregnant with a child that was not his (it was God’s child) and also probably knew that his plans to build a family with Mary (in the way he had planned it!) would not happen. Still, he takes courage, trusts God and takes Mary as his wife.
We all have words in the Bible, particularly in the Gospel, that we struggle to make our own: “Forgive”, “Love your enemies”, “Wash each other’s feet”, “the one who wants to be first should be the last…”. Why don’t you choose just one for this year and ask St Joseph to be with you as you try to make it yours?
Care for young men. In my reflection on the feast of St Joseph (19 March 2021) I shared that we normally see paintings of Joseph as an old man holding the baby Jesus. Was he really old when he married Mary? The Gospels do not say anything about his age. I always believe that “painting” him old is a way of telling us about his being a wise man (we normally link “wisdom” with age and experience). If you ask me, I believe that both Mary and Joseph were teenagers when they got married. It is to a young man that God entrusted Mary, the baby Jesus and our own salvation.
The year of St Joseph calls us to care for our young men and boys. Even today we expect so much from them. We expect them to be able to build a family, to be faithful, to respect their wives, to care for the children… How do we – as a Church – prepare them for all that?
Care for refugees. Soon after the birth of Jesus, the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus becomes refugees in Egypt. It is not a joke to be a refugee. There is nothing romantic in being a refugee. I am here as a missionary. The Church cares for me. Our priests go for further studies to another country but there is a whole structure to care for them when they go. Not so for a refugee…
Every year our diocese supports the Malindza Refugee Centre with food and toiletries. Could we go a step further? Could we commit ourselves to know their stories, who they are, where they come from, why they are here? It is – again – another call to listen. Let us listen to all those who came to the Kingdom of Eswatini looking for a place where they could rebuild their lives for themselves and their families.
These are just some ideas on how we can celebrate the Year of St Joseph and the Year of the family as families need to deepening their listening to each other and to God’s will. The Spirit of the Risen Lord will certainly indicate other ways. Let us listen to the voice of the Spirit…!
Click HERE for the photo album
of the celebration