Like that of a domestic lamp, which spreads modest and quiet light—provident, intimate, inviting us to a thoughtful and laborious vigil beyond the darkness of the night, comforting us amid the tedium of silence and the fear of solitude, overcoming the weight of tiredness and of sleep—and which seems to speak with a flat and sure voice of the dawn that will come: thus the light of the pious figure of Saint Joseph, it seems to Us, spreads its beneficial rays in the house of God which is the Church. He fills her with the most human and ineffable memories of the Word, made man for us and like us, entering upon the stage of this world and living under the protection, guidance, and authority of the poor craftsman of Nazareth; he illuminates her with his incomparable example as a saint fortunate among so many for having lived a common life with Jesus and Mary—a life of service to Christ, a service born of love.
This is the secret of Saint Joseph’s greatness, which is in keeping with his humility: having made his life one of service, a life of sacrifice to the mystery of the Incarnation and to the redemptive mission which is joined to it; having used the legal authority, which belonged to him over the Holy Family, to make a total gift of himself, of his life, of his work; having converted his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of himself, of his heart, and of his every capacity, he placed himself at the service of the Messiah who grew up in his very home, his nominal son, the son of David, the son of Mary, and the Son of God. If ever the words of that evangelical motto—“to serve for love”—which gave glory to Mary, the prophetess of the Magnificat, and to Saint John the Baptist, the Forerunner, were suited to one saint, it must be the very Joseph, who appears before us clothed by it, with the unmistakable profile that defines him and the splendor that glorifies him. Serving Christ was his life; serving Him in the deepest humility; with the most complete dedication; with love, and for love.
From a homily delivered by Saint Paul VI on the Feast of Saint Joseph (March 19, 1966)
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