Jesus Chose Them for Each Other, for Himself, & for Us

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

This December 8th unites two of our greatest saints: the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. Today we celebrate both the Immaculate Conception and the conclusion to the Year of St. Joseph. Our Lady, under the title of “The Immaculate Conception,” is the patroness of our country. And Joseph, under the title of “St. Joseph the Workman.” is the primary patron of our diocese. Last year, our Bishop William Callahan proclaimed a year dedicated to St. Joseph beginning May 1st. Then, last December 8th, Pope Francis unexpectedly announced a Year of St. Joseph for the entire Church worldwide. As a result of this, our diocesan celebration of this Year of St. Joseph is the longest in the world: 19 months and 8 days in full. And this is very fitting, since our diocesan patron’s name, “Joseph,” means “he will increase.”

How beautiful it is that this date brings together Mary and Joseph! He, the noble head of the Holy Family; and she, the Immaculate Heart of their home He, her chaste guardian; and she, his loving spouse. Both are absolutely faithful and obedient, courageous and righteous. And both of them were chosen by God, chosen for each other, and chosen for Christ. Mary became Jesus’ loving mother and Joseph became Jesus’ nurturing foster-father. God chose them “before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.” Our Lord Jesus Christ chose them for himself and he also chose them for us.

Does Jesus get jealous at the Church celebrating Mary and Joseph? Does our Catholic devotion to Mary or Joseph detract from devotion we ought to have for Christ? In his recent book, “Consecration to St. Joseph,” Fr. Donald Calloway answers: “What brother would be offended if his younger siblings expressed love towards their mother and father? What man would be upset if another person wrote a song about his mother or placed roses at her feet? Likewise, what son would be disturbed if someone praised the virtues of his father? A person who honored a father would not receive condemnation from the father’s son. On the contrary, such a person would receive praise and tremendous favors from the son.” I would add that love in a family is not a zero-sum game, but that healthy love makes love grow larger. Devotion to Mary and Joseph does not make us love Jesus less, but helps us love him more.

Jesus has not diminished these parents who cared for him on earth. He has exalted and shared them with us. He has made his mother the mother of all Christians. Like the first Eve who “became the mother of all the living,” Mary is the spiritual mother to all those alive in Christ. He has made his foster-father Joseph, who successfully safeguarded the Holy Family through its trials, spiritual protector of the universal Church And ‘never was it known that anyone who fled to their protection, implored their help, or sought their intercession was left unaided.’ So be sure to befriend St. Mary and St. Joseph. Jesus loves them dearly and they aided him on earth. He wills that you would know them, and love them, and be helped by them through this life, too, by their powerful, loving care.

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