Homily of Archbishop Jose Palma on the Consecration to St. Joseph
Homily at the Holy Mass for the Consecration to St Joseph May 1, 2021
Feast of St Joseph the Worker
How privileged we are that the Lord has gathered us in this beautiful National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph and to be able to join in the National Consecration of St. Joseph or to St. Joseph.
I am glad that many of you have joined the days of preparation by listening to the many sharings or lectures, reflections on St. Joseph and I know that all of these will make a difference in our life.
I am pretty sure that many of you - us - have read that beautiful book by Donald Calloway, Consecration to St. Joseph. I believe within the year if you can get a copy and reflect even more on the reflections, this will make this year truly a fruitful year for all of us.
As we all know, December 8, 2020 until December 8 of this year is declared by Pope Francis the Year of St. Joseph. And this is to celebrate what Pope Pius IX did in December 1870: to declare St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church.
And today we recall that 150 years ago, a meaningful, beautiful proclamation was done and we celebrate the year to realize that if 150 years ago, proclaiming St Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church helped, aided the church. We do believe celebrating that will also help us in our times of need this year 2021.
Today I would just like to invite you to reflect on two key points because I know there are more...
Within the year we will have a chance to reflect on the richness of the significance of St. Joseph in our life but for today, two things first:
What St. Joseph means to us as Guardian of the Holy Family, as Patron of the Universal Church in our time, in this time of difficulties, in this time of pandemic.
And second a reflection on St. Joseph the Worker.
We know the years around 1870 were difficult years. The effect of Marxism by Karl Marx, the effect of (the) Franco-Prussian War, the effects on what the laborers did, and even what happened to the states of the Church. Difficult years and there was turmoil in the context of labor and what happened to many families.
Our time last year, this year, are difficult times.
And that’s why we find meaning in coming to St. Joseph, in believing that just as he was called by God to be the Guardian of the Holy Family, we plead for his intercession to journey with us, to assist us in our time -- difficult times.
If you look around the world... 300 million have perished because of COVID. And its effect in business, education, culture and various forms of life could hardly be told. When we go down to the people around us, it hurts us, it pains us, it makes us shed tears.
Today, we come to St. Joseph in this Act of Consecration.
It is our way of saying, "St. Joseph, just as God has appointed you to care for the Holy Family," - today we are telling him - "make us as well your family. Make us your family."
Just as even the Holy Family experienced difficult times. We know Jesus was born in the manger. That was not easy. We know that they were to flee to Egypt when the life of Jesus was in danger. That was not easy. We know that the journey took several weeks. That was not easy.
Walking amidst difficulties, we know what it means to rise amidst poverty. St. Joseph experienced this. That’s why today when we hear people talk to us about difficult times, about the danger of what COVID may bring, about raising a child, sending him to school; about where to get the next food; about a child who is sick and we do not know what will happen in the future... We know what it means to come to Joseph.
In the Old Testament, people who were in hunger were told "Ite ad Joseph," come to Joseph, go to Joseph. When we go to Joseph, then we are made to realize he is the Guardian of God’s gracious gift to us. We are made to deepen our faith. That God is with us and we are made to cling to the treasure.
Yes, even more important than the treasure in Egypt because the treasure that Joseph shares with us is God’s greatest treasure, Jesus and Mary.
When we come to Joseph, he would make us aware.
Yes, we may be in difficult times but he is with us, and with him (are) Jesus and Mary. And if we can only cling to that faith and believe, COVID may be still around but it will pass. But the love of Jesus and the love of Mary and the love of Joseph will be with us.
My dear brothers and sisters, when we do that consecration then particularly fathers who may find challenges of raising a family difficult would be reminded that in St. Joseph, the humble, courageous, industrious, loving, understanding father was given the grace.
I know it’s not easy to raise a family. So many times a father would open up to me and would say where did we go wrong? We did our best but my child... is walking the wrong path. I don't have the answer but I can only say I pray with you. Where did we go wrong? Why would this happen? My child would get sick. Why would this happen?
This event in life... we can only cling to prayer. Come to St. Joseph because when we come to him, then we know with him is Jesus and with him is Mary.
Today as we celebrate this mass and as we, in the Diocese and Archdiocese, make this Act of Consecration, we remember all families - but in particular our own families - and we thank the Lord for our families because we are here because of them and if we have no chance to choose our families because we do not choose our parents, we do not choose our brothers and sisters, we can only pray that each one of us may be an instrument to bring about good in the family, to bring about renewal for the better, to bring about holiness and love and harmony.
My dear brothers and sisters, let me go to the final point today being labor day and St. Joseph being the Patron Saint of Workers.
Yes, we chose this date because, since the proclamation of St. Joseph’s year, we have time to reflect on his role in our society. St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Workers, in the document of the church, we are (that) reminded in Nazareth, the work of St. Joseph is an expression of love.
Today we thank the Lord for the gift of work and for workers and we thank the Lord for people who believe that their work is their way to holiness, their way to serve the family and society, their way of making this world or community a better place to live in, and their way of evangelizing the church.
How beautiful to see (that) even in ordinary work, we make ourselves holy.
In Nazareth, work is an expression of love.
The same Pope who declared 150 years ago St Joseph as a patron of the universal church, Pius IX said, “Just as the bird is born to fly, man is born to work.”
We thank the many workers who know that this indeed is an expression of love.
Sometimes when we say if other people separate (it is) because there is no love. But many of us - most of us in the Philippines - if we are separated, it is in the name of love. What do I mean? How many millions of Filipinos work abroad, separated physically from their families? But this is in the name of love. In the name of love, this sacrifice (of) being distanced, being away. We salute them and today we pray for them.
How many of our brothers and sisters today, as I speak, are in the hospitals working. They know of the dangers in this time of COVID. Our front liners. But they do this in the name of love. We salute them.
How many of our mothers sacrificed working in the home, doing seemingly menial works and yet very significant. These they do in the name of love.
What a beautiful way today to realize work is indeed an expression of love.
I often recall with some kind of amusement sometime when we watched once again the Broadway (musical) Fiddler on the Roof. And there’s this Topol who asked his wife, “Do you love me?” And the wife said, “What? You ask me, Do I love you?” And he said “It’s good to know after 25 years." And the wife said, “Well, I cook your food, I wash your clothes, I clean the house, etc...” Her way to tell the world she loves her husband is she did her work. Beautiful!
Today we remember the workers and we pray for them. We know that if we are afloat despite many concerns and problems, it is because of hardworking Filipinos here and abroad. I’d like to invite you to pray for their protection.
I made mention of those who work as frontliners. They sacrifice. We pray for their protection.
As a final note, I’d like to invite us to value the effect of work. I say this because I know that sometimes, those who are working abroad feel rather sad when they know that the money they spend - if it's Euro or dollar or whatever - is not appreciated. I feel sad when I know that some who are here who just spend the money - mahjong , tong-its, pusoy, whatever. Because they thought it was easy money. No, it’s not easy! Bato-bato sa langit ang matamaan... But that’s the truth! My point is let’s treasure and value the effects of work.
And so my brothers and sisters, today is a wonderful day. I know that because today we consecrate ourselves to St. Joseph. Like him, even perhaps in his silent way but definitely full of faith, but even more important in the spirit of closeness to Jesus and Mary, in the spirit of knowing that God defines our life - as fathers, mothers, members of the family, as workers - may we, because of this consecration, become like Joseph, the man who believed that God is at work in us.
At one extent, that we embrace God’s will and do it with great faith and love. To that extent, we know we, too, grow in holiness.
Together we pray that this year of St. Joseph may make us like him - a man in his own simple, silent way, glorifying God because he loves Jesus and Mary and because he does his work as a sign of love.
Once more to all of you, thank you and happy fiesta of St. Joseph!
Transcription by Gel Katalbas