In his Litany, St. Joseph is invoked as “Minister of Salvation,” a newly introduced title just before “Head of the Holy Family.” Wait a minute! Was St. Joseph the head of a government department or a member of the clergy at his time? This title might seem bizarre for us to use for St. Joseph based on our understanding of the term “minister” today. However, considering one who ministers, administers, or provides something to another; normally something that does not originate in the very minister but precedes the minister. In this case, Joseph is not the one who saves but is one through whom the salvation brought by Jesus is made available. Thus, Joseph is a minister of salvation because he is father to the one who brings salvation, Jesus the Saviour.
In the Apostolic Exhortation, “Patris Corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows, dedicated to the interests of Jesus, protector of the Church and the family. These attributes point out and appreciate uniquely, the spirituality and the importance of Saint Joseph’s mission in the event of the incarnation and life of Jesus as “Minister of Salvation,” as well as his presence in the lives of Christians throughout the Church’s journey. Little wonder Pope Saint John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, “Redemptoris Custos,” quoting Saint John Chrysostom, a quintessential early Church Father and Archbishop of Constantinople, says: “St. Joseph cooperated in the fullness of time in the great mystery of salvation and is truly a “minister of salvation.” And in consonance, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #517) states: “Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life…” Needless to say, our salvation/redemption already commenced with Christ’s incarnation, birth, circumcision, etc., which St. Joseph already participated in and ministered; reaching its culmination with Christ’s death and resurrection.
Together with Mary, Joseph is the first guardian of this divine mystery. Together with Mary, and in relation to Mary, he shares in this final phase of God’s self-revelation in Christ and he does so from the very beginning.” (cf. Redemptoris Custos, #5) As a minister of Salvation, it cannot be denied that it was during Joseph’s fatherly role at Christ’s Presentation in the temple that Simeon beheld the Salvation of the world, little wonder he exclaimed: “At last, all-powerful Master, You give leave to Your servant to go in peace, according to Your promise. For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared for all nations, the light to enlighten the Gentiles and give glory to Israel, Your people.” (Luke 2:29-32).
Therefore, all Christ’s faithful, especially those serving in the ministerial priesthood, are called as “ministers of salvation” to emulate St. Joseph with selfless love, humility, and service to Christ’s ministry with Saint Joseph as a model and guide, always serving the interests of our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, we are all called in the various positions we find ourselves, either in the common priesthood or the ministerial priesthood to emulate and follow the pious steps of this great man of God – Saint Joseph, who as a minister of salvation, sought always the interests of Jesus. In this vein, Pope St. John Paul II encourages us: “In this way the whole Christian people not only will turn to St. Joseph with greater fervour and invoke his patronage with trust, but also will always keep before their eyes his humble, mature way of serving and of ‘taking part’ in the plan of salvation.”(Redemptoris Custos, #1).
O Blessed Saint Joseph and minister of salvation, show yourself a father to us by your intercession and prayers in order that we might be guided on the path that leads to eternal life. Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
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PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?
Thanks so much Padre
St. Joseph, pray for fathers to draw lessons from your fatherhood for greater good of His peoples.