With a mother’s and father’s heart.
Since 19 March we have been living the “Amoris Laetitia Family” Year, which will culminate on 26 June 2022 with the 10th World Meeting of Families in Rome. At the same time, as you know, Pope Francis gave us a beautiful letter, Patris corde, on 8 December 2020, with which he launched the Year of Saint Joseph. Both celebrations go hand in hand and constitute for us a source of grace to develop within ourselves a mother's and a father's heart.
I remember as if it were today when, in 1978 in St. Peter's Square, John Paul I said that God is “father and mother.” Many were outraged. Reactions were different when John Paul II applied that concept to God in an audience nearly 20 years later. Francis not only uses the concept in reference to God, but has insisted that the Body of Christ, the Church, is a woman, is “the” Church.
That is why I would like to propose that we look at what traits of the “fatherhood” of Saint Joseph we can intensify in our women’s hearts, so that our families can count on the best of ourselves to flourish. And that, by letting ourselves be “irradiated” by the family of Nazareth, we can come out of this crisis better than before, taking advantage of it as an opportunity for growth.
The Pope points out that Joseph is father in tenderness and that tenderness is precisely the best way to touch the frailty within us and within the other members of our family. The evil one makes us see and condemn our frailty, “whereas the Spirit brings it to light with tender love” and teaches us that God, through our fears, our weaknesses and those of the family, can and wants to act.
We can see Joseph the father in obedience, even when he was in anguish. “In every situation, Joseph declared his own “fiat”, like those of Mary at the Annunciation and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.” In the worst moments for his family, he demonstrates a strong, virile confidence and patience. In this global emergency we may not understand the meaning of God's plans. We would do well to “manfully” strengthen our obedience to Divine Providence.
Joseph is father in welcoming, a brave and strong leading role. “Only the Lord can give us the strength needed to accept life as it is [...].” With a mother’s and father’s heart, let us accept life in every moment and situation, from conception to natural death, as it presents itself to us. And let “us […] accept and welcome others as they are, without exception, and […] show special concern for the weak, for God chooses what is weak"let us welcome others, without exclusion, just as they are, with preference for the weak, because God chooses what is weak.”
We read that Joseph is a creatively courageous father. The Pope writes: “In the face of difficulty, we can either give up and walk away, or somehow engage with it. At times, difficulties bring out resources we did not even think we had.” What can we as a family come up with, being creative and courageous, to reach out to other families in difficult situations?
Finally, the Pope tells us that, “we should always keep in mind that [fatherhood] has nothing to do with possession, but is rather a “sign” pointing to a greater fatherhood. In a way, we are all like Joseph: a shadow of the heavenly Father.” May our hearts, in this Easter season, become a source of motherhood, like Mary's, and of fatherhood, like Joseph's, and so may we rise with the heart of a mother and father.
If you are not already doing so, I suggest you take advantage of the “gift of special Indulgences” that Pope Francis is giving to us all, but especially to the sick and elderly “in the current context of the health emergency” (see decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary announcing the “Year of Saint Joseph”). I hope that these graces may serve for our personal conversion - a necessary condition for obtaining an indulgence - and the salvation of so many others.
May the Holy Family teach us to live our family as a “domestic church,” and, for this, may it grant us the joy of the Resurrection of our Lord! He is truly risen!
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General