At the Angelus on the fourth Sunday of Advent, Pope Benedict invited us to prepare for Christmas by reflecting on the figure of St Joseph. He then entrusted the world’s pastors to the foster father of Jesus and universal patron of the Church, urging that they should “quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world”.
Here is the Holy Father’s reflection before the Angelus in its entirety:
On this fourth Sunday of Advent, the Gospel of Saint Matthew tells us the story of Jesus’ birth through the eyes of Saint Joseph. He was betrothed to Mary, “but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit” (Mt, 1:18). The Son of God, fulfilling an ancient prophecy (cf Is, 7:14), became a man in the womb of a virgin, and this mystery shows God’s love, wisdom and power for humanity, hurt by sin. Saint Joseph is presented as a “righteous man” (Mt, 1:19), faithful to God’s law, and ready to do his will. For this reason, he becomes a party to the Mystery of the Incarnation when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Mt, 1:20-21). And so it came about that Joseph gave up the idea of quietly repudiating Mary, and took her in because at this moment his eyes could see in her the work of God.
In his commentary on Saint Luke, Saint Ambrose said, “in Joseph you find the friendliness of the righteous, to give greater worthiness to his standing as witness” (Exp. Ev. sec. Lucam II, 5: CCL 14, 32-33). “He,” Ambrose said, “could not contaminate the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of the Lord, the womb fecundated by mystery” (ibid, II, 6: CCL 14, 33). Despite his turmoil, Joseph did “as the angel of the Lord ordered”, certain that he was doing the right thing. Even when he gave the name “Jesus” to the child who carries the universe, he joined the army of humble and faithful servants, like the angels and the prophets as well as the martyrs and the apostles, praised in ancient eastern hymns. Saint Joseph announced the marvels of the Lord and bore witness to Mary’s virginity, God’s selfless deed, whilst protecting the early life of the Messiah. Let us venerate Jesus’ lawful father (cf CCC, 532), because in him we see new man, who looked to the future with confidence and courage, who disregarded his own goals, but entrusted himself completely to the infinite mercy of the One who fulfils prophecies and opens time to salvation.
Dear friends, I wish to entrust all pastors to Saint Joseph, universal patron of the Church, urging them to “quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world,” (Letter proclaiming a Year for Priests). May our life join more and more the Person of Jesus, because the “One who is the Word takes on Himself a body, comes from God as a man and draws to himself the whole of humanity, bringing it into the word of God (Gesù di Nazaret, Milan: 2007, 383).
Let us confidently call on the Virgin Mary, full of grace, “adorned with God”, so that on this coming Christmas, our eyes might open and see Jesus, and the heart rejoice in this admirable meeting of love.