LOS ANGELES (CNS) — In St. Joseph, “we see our story,” Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez said March 19, the feast of the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus.
As the patron of the universal church, St. Joseph is “our father, too,” he said. “God entrusted him with the protection of Jesus and Mary, and he entrusts him with the care of the church. … Pope Francis wants us to invoke his protection, to seek his prayers and guidance, and to learn from the example of his virtue.”
Archbishop Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, made the comments in his homily for the special national Mass he celebrated on St. Joseph’s Day at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.
The morning Mass was livestreamed by the Los Angeles Archdiocese on its website and other digital and social platforms and by the USCCB via the archdiocese’s YouTube channel.
The saint’s feast was particularly special to Catholics in this Year of St. Joseph.
Marking the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being declared patron of the universal church by Pope Pius IX, Pope Francis proclaimed a yearlong celebration dedicated to the foster father of Jesus in a Dec. 8, 2020, apostolic letter, “Patris Corde” (“With a father’s heart”).
“For the first time in history, the universal church is dedicating a holy Year to St. Joseph, this man whom Jesus Christ called his ‘father’ on earth,” Archbishop Gomez said in his homily.
St. Joseph was an ordinary man who long ago, he said, “walked this earth just as we do. But now, he can hear our prayers and whisper them to the ear of God.”
“You and I belong to the great family of God,” he said. “With St. Joseph, we are part of the family of heroes and saints that extends back to the beginning of time.”
The day’s Scripture readings — about Abraham, King David and St. Joseph — “are stories from our family history, he said. “St. Paul tells us today that Abraham ‘is the father of all of us … our father in the sight of God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not exist.'”
“In Abraham, human history becomes salvation history,” he continued. “We are here today because many centuries ago, God called Abraham to leave everything behind and set out on a new path. God promised Abraham that if he lived by faith, he would become a blessing for all peoples, that he would become the ‘father of many nations.'”
The church is called “to be one family of God gathered from every nation,” and in the church, “we are all children of Abraham,” Archbishop Gomez said. “By our faith in Christ, we are made heirs to God’s promise!”
Through Christ, God the Father “is still speaking to his church, still guiding his children on the path of salvation,” he said. “Right now, in this moment in the church’s history — as we approach our second Easter under the dark cloud of this pandemic, in this time when there is still so much trouble and fear — our Holy Father Pope Francis is calling us to ‘go to Joseph.'”
March 19 also marked the fifth anniversary of the fifth anniversary of “Amoris Laetitia,” the pope’s 2016 exhortation of marriage and family life.
In Rome, the anniversary was marked by a conference sponsored by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, the Diocese of Rome and the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and Family. The event also kicked off celebrations of the “Amoris Laetitia Family Year,” which will conclude June 26, 2022, at the World Meeting of Families in Rome.
Pope Francis has asked the church to celebrate the family and reflect upon how ministry supports married couples and the family in every level of church life, and the USCCB announced March 17 the bishop’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth announced is coordinating the anniversary celebration in the United States.
The USCCB has launched new pages on its website to celebrate the special year.
The pages include links to the Vatican website about the initiative with videos of Pope Francis teaching about the family and frequently asked questions about the apostolic exhortation, as well as catechesis on the sacrament of marriage, the family as “domestic church,” theology of the body and natural family planning.
There also are materials “sharing the joy of marital and familial love with youth and young adults” and resources for families in many situations of need.
Staff members of the USCCB Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth also are offering monthly reflections on each of the pope’s “Twelve Ways to Walk with Families.”
Also posted are resources for those who plan to attend the World Meeting of Families in Rome and for dioceses preparing simultaneous events to celebrate the World Meeting of Families locally.