This past week, in the cycle of readings for ferial Masses, we read the story of the Patriarch Joseph. It is a story rich in meaning and in typology. In the Patriarch Joseph we see a type of Our Lord who like him was betrayed, but whose betrayal worked for the good. By God’s appointment, Joseph son of Isaac became the administrator of the Egyptian granaries. In him we also see a type of Joseph, son of David, chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, and the virginal father of Jesus here on earth. To this Joseph was entrusted the ‘granary’ of the Redemption, for the Child born of Mary has become for us the very Bread of Life.
More than thirty years ago, Pope John Paul II wrote a beautiful Apostolic Exhortation on the role of St. Joseph in the Mystery of Christ and the Church; in it the pope observed that St. Joseph is an exceptional teacher in the service of Christ’s saving mission which is the responsibility of each and every member of the Church. (Redemptoris Custos, August 15, 1989, Apostolic Exhortation, On the Person and Mission of St. Joseph in the Life of Christ and of the Church). Our Lady and St. Joseph teach us how to receive the Mystery of Christ in the intimacy of our own life and also how to serve this Mystery at work in and through us with humility, prompt obedience and charity. Countless saints have been inspired to work for God’s greater glory and the salvation of souls by following the example of St. Joseph. St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal stands as a monument to depth of devotion to St. Joseph in our country. The number of hospitals throughout the country that bear his name also bear witness to charity inspired by the Guardian of the Redeemer. As we see witness hostility and violence directed against the Church in Canada and calls for a repudiation of Christ’s saving mission as historically exercised in our nation, we do well to go to Joseph; that we may obtain protection for the Church in our country and peace among our citizenry.
Churches in our country have been set ablaze and vandalized, and the response of the civil authorities is at best distant. What should not be tolerated towards any group religious or otherwise is ignored and what is more, encouraged. ‘Burn it all down!’ This is what we have read and heard. It amounts to criminal incitement to hate. Yet, in a culture of outrage defined also by historical illiteracy, the destruction of symbols and structures associated with the past is deemed a worthy and virtuous pursuit. We have become a culture that increasingly replaces evidence with narrative.