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Saint Joseph: Protects and Provides

 

Saint Joseph is the patron of the Diocese of Balanga. There are three parishes dedicated to him; each has a different title and a different feast day. The Cathedral Church honors Saint Joseph as husband of Mary and celebrates his feast on April 28. The parish church in Cabcaben, Mariveles reverently addresses him as Saint Joseph the Worker and the parish fiesta is celebrated on the first day of May. The barangay parish in Dinalupihan bears the name New San Jose and observes his feast on March 19.

In our diocese it is the practice to set the morning Holy Mass of the Bishop at eight o’clock in the morning where members of the clergy of Bataan concelebrate. I always look forward to the parish fiesta on March 19 parish of New San Jose in Dinalupihan. This excitement first took hold of me when the parish priest, Father Gerardo Yabyabin, OSJ, insisted that I stay a while to have a look at the staff (tungkod) of the Saint Joseph festival.

During the procession, young people, especially the male, carry with carry various kinds of wooden staff of different sizes, colors and length. The wooden staffs reminiscent of the staff of Saint Joseph are beautifully decorated, brilliantly polished and religiously painted. “You will be amazed at their creativity and realize how imaginative they are,” Father Gerry informed me. He then requested me to bless the staffs at the conclusion of procession in the parish church. It was an honor for me to do so and also an opportunity for me to share with them some thoughts on the importance of the staff of Saint Joseph.

It can be gleaned from Church tradition that when St. Joseph was about to turn thirty years old, along with all the single men of the tribe of David, he was called by the priests of the Temple. At the Temple the men were given each a branch and told that a virgin named Mary of Nazareth would be the chosen bride. Mary would marry the one whose branch would sprout a bud, as was said by the Prophet Isaiah, “but a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom” (11,1). Behold, it was only the branch of Joseph that bloomed and he was immediately recognized as the worthy spouse destined by God for the grace-filled Virgin Mary.

God rightfully chose Joseph for Mary and Jesus. God willed that it should be Joseph who would provide a home for his Son Jesus and protect Him and Mary. It was God’s design to make Joseph the steward of His redemptive plan for mankind. And Joseph proved to be a faithful collaborator. He showed himself as a trusting servant of God.

On that day I celebrated the eight o’clock Holy Mass, the Church was full. Together with the congregation we reflected on the roles of Saint Joseph as protector and provider.

Saint Joseph protects:

When God entrusted to His Son to Joseph’s care and protection, he carried out his role dutifully with love and in total obedience. He followed God’s bidding as conveyed by the angel without hesitation, without conditions. “Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child” (Luke 2,4).

Joseph did not insist on his own agenda or personal interest. He accepted what God commanded of him. He believed in God’s plans. He trusted God’s ways. Without any reservation, without any doubt, Joseph obeyed and took Mary as his wife. He was always with Mary. He protected her.

For the love of his Holy Family and to protect the infant Jesus from the life-threatening order of King Herod, Joseph out of complete trust in God and with firm confidence in His will, “took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt” (Matthew 2,14). To protect is to work for the safety and security of those we love. Saint Joseph did what was best for his Family.

In our own situation to protect is to safeguard life from the littlest life, even that of the unborn. To protect is to avoid and reject anything that will destroy life. To protect life is to promote and preserve life. And like Saint Joseph we are called to take good care of those entrusted to our care, those under our authority.

Saint Joseph provides:

At the finding of Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2, 41-52) Joseph knew that he was called and chosen to fulfill God’s will to devote his own life at the service of Jesus and Mary. He was not only a caring custodian of the Holy Family he was also a loving provider to them. Joseph imparted to Jesus the craft of his trade, and Jesus became known “the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13, 55). With the betrothal of Joseph and Mary (Matthew 1, 26-27), Joseph provided the legal and royal title “Son of David” (Isaiah 9, 5-6) to Jesus.

Joseph provided his family everything – his time, the fruits of his livelihood as a skillful carpenter, his care and concern. He devoted his whole life to Mary and to Jesus. And yet he did not take them only for himself. He committed them to us, shared them with us, and worked with them for our redemption and for the glory of God. To provide is to give all that is good and beneficial to those we loved. Saint Joseph surrendered all he had to God and submitted himself at the service of Mary and Jesus.

We see in our lives that to provide is to share, to offer all we have, generously and selflessly. It is not to withhold something for ourselves. To provide is not to possess or to hoard. To provide is to be gracious, to be open-handed. And like Saint Joseph we must be always available, always ready to serve and to bear sacrifices for the good of our loved ones and also of the poor and the needy.

It was almost three in the afternoon when young people from the different sitios (localities) started arriving at the Parish Church to pay homage to Saint Joseph and ask for the blessing of the parish priest. They then proceeded to the Barangay Plaza where they showed off their respective presentations. Along the way and with their beautifully crafted and decorated tungkod (staff) they performed street dances.

While inside the Church I invited them to look closely at how Saint Joseph takes the hands of Jesus and holds tightly to his staff. His staff signifies his guiding and guarding hand of Mary and Jesus. I reminded them to hold tightly to those you love. Always take in those entrusted to your heart and to your home. Let us remember that the constant command to Saint Joseph is “to take.” In Matthew 1,20 the angel told him, “do not be afraid to take Mary.” When the life of the newborn Jesus was threatened with death, Joseph was prompted “rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt” (Matthew 2,13). And with the death of Herod, Joseph was again commanded, “rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel” (Matthew 2,20).

Saint Joseph and his staff remind us always to take Jesus and Mary in our homes and in our hearts. He shows up to us the perfect model of a good man, a good provider, a good protector. Let us do what Saint Joseph did and protect and provide for our family.

 

With a joyful heart I together with Father Gerry gave those gathered to honor our beloved Saint Joseph our blessings. In parting Father Gerry exhorted them, “Get up, let us go…” (Matthew 26,46)

 

 

+Ruperto Cruz Santos

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Diocese of Balanga
(Bataan, Philippines)