Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
March 19, 2021
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is a historic day. 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!
St. Joseph was an ordinary man, a husband and foster-father. Long ago, he walked this earth just as we do. But now, he can hear our prayers and whisper them to the ear of God.
We celebrate St. Joseph today because in his story, we see our story.
You and I belong to the great family of God. With St. Joseph, we are part of the family of heroes and saints that extends back to the beginning of time!
And the stories that we just heard from the sacred Scriptures — about Abraham, King David, and St. Joseph — these are stories from our family history.
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. 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.”
This is the promise of the Church, which is called to be one family of God gathered from every nation. In the Church, we are all children of Abraham! By our faith in Christ we are made heirs to God’s promise![i]
Brothers and sisters, this is who we are, and this where we came from.
The God of Abraham is the living God who loves us so much that he entered into our history to become one of us. In Jesus Christ, our God has come to speak to us and suffer for us, and to make himself the way for our lives.
And through Jesus Christ, our Father is still working in history. He is still speaking to his Church, still guiding his children on the path of salvation.
And 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.”
St. Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church, and so he is our father, too. God entrusted him with the protection of Jesus and Mary, and he entrusts him with the care of the Church.
And now in this critical moment, Pope Francis wants us to invoke his protection, to seek his prayers and guidance, and to learn from the example of his virtue.
Like Abraham before him, St. Joseph “believed, hoping against hope.” He put his trust in God’s promises and did everything that God asked him to do with courage and humility.
St. Joseph never speaks in the Gospels. Not a single word. We see him praying to know God’s will and listening for God’s voice. And we see him responding with the obedience of faith.
As we heard in today’s Gospel: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.”
Brothers and sisters, from St. Joseph we learn that each of us, too, has our own part to play in salvation history.
We are put on this earth for a reason. We are loved by God and wanted by God. And he gives us each a duty in building up his family on earth — his Church and his kingdom.
We carry out our mission, just as Joseph did. By serving Jesus in the ordinary work of our everyday lives. In our neighborhoods, churches, and schools. And in a special way, in our homes and families.
Today, as we know, also marks the start of the “Year Amoris Laetitia Family,” and Pope Francis is asking us to reflect on the joy of love in our families.
And it is fitting that we are celebrating the family in this year of St. Joseph. Because Joseph served God’s plan as a husband and a provider for his family.
In fact, that’s how he was known. As the carpenter, as Mary’s husband. When Jesus started his ministry, people referred to him as the carpenter’s son.[ii]
The lesson for us is that God works in this world, not through rich and powerful, but “from below.” God works through the lowly and humble, through ordinary men and women like Joseph and Mary, living their lives with fidelity and love.
Wherever we are, is where God calls us to serve. This is our “mission territory,” this is where we play our part in salvation history.
God is calling each of us to follow him and serve him — through the love we share in our families and communities. Through our kindness and compassion, through the sacrifices we make to love one another.
And right now, dear brothers and sisters, God is entrusting to every one of us in the Church the mission of rebuilding our society after a plague. We don’t know what this post-pandemic world is going to look like, but we do know that our society is already changing in dramatic ways.
Now more than ever, we need to be witnesses to the love of God and the truth of the Gospel.
In this moment, God is calling each of us to follow him and to trust in his promises — just as he called our fathers Abraham and Joseph. Just as he called our mother Mary.
So, let us go to Joseph!
As Joseph lived to serve Jesus, let us live that way, too. As Joseph loved Mary above all else, let us love Mary, too.
Holy Mary, our Blessed Mother, keep us close to your Immaculate Heart!
[i] Gal. 3:29.
[ii] Matt. 13:55.