This is part of a vocations homily published in audio format on EWTN’s Vocation Boom program:
It’s always a great gift to be able to preach on vocations on the feast day of St. Joseph for a variety of reasons. St. Joseph presents for us a role model in discernment. Secondly, he is also an example of someone who dedicated His life to the living out of His vocation to the fullest. What we know of Him in both Holy Scripture and through tradition reveal for us two of the most essential elements of any generous vocational response; humility and obedience. Finally, St. Joseph is the patron saint for us here in Canada, so I have no doubt He will intercede for us here praying to the Lord of the harvest here in the Canadian Catholic Church, that there will be more labourers entering into the harvest.
St. Joseph for obvious reasons couldn’t have been as open and receptive to the Annunciation, as his betrothed, the Blessed Virgin was. He wasn’t there! Our Lady was open to God’s grace, when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and even presuming she told St. Joseph (which I think we can be sure she did), logic and reason would have led him to be skeptical and in doubt until the angel appeared to him in a dream as well. But Joseph did not rush to judgment or immediately act upon his hurt, disappointment, feelings, or even what seemed to be logical but instead surely took these things with him to prayer. We are not given a sense of how immediate the response was, but it certainly wasn’t instant. In discernment, people are encouraged to act in the same manner. We all reason and we all apply logic, but while these factors are a very important part of the natural human condition, we often must think and pray outside or beyond these things. In the end, reason and logic are expanded not eroded and we too will encounter God who will set our mind at ease.
Once God has spoken to our heart and our questions are answered, we need to begin to respond to Him and His call for us as Joseph did. He took Mary and departed, He moved quickly to protect His family. He settled in Nazareth for the safety of his child. We too need to answer our call. If we are called to priesthood and we have a sense of that, we too must respond and not create for ourselves more obstacles than the ones that exist, the ones which we must seek to allow grace to begin to break down.
St. Joseph, husband, father and faithful man answered his call in obedience and humility. He listened for the Will of God and did not presume it. He brought the Child Jesus to the temple, for the rituals, knowing His Son was special and Divine, He did not circumvent the Will of God. He also did all he did in a spirit of humility and although he could have certainly acted with pride, he didn’t. In this way, he is a model for priests who give their life in obedience to their bishop, and their future bishops whom they don’t know on the day that they are ordained. They must strive for humility as pride is one of the most deadly vices for anyone in any vocation’ but most especially for the priest and in the priesthood.
And finally, and joyfully I ask St. Joseph to intercede for all of us in Canada and the United States, but especially for us here in Canada and for our Church. St. Andre Bessette, a great saint of blessed memory here had a strong devotion to St. Joseph and his vocation as a Holy Cross brother is a great vocation story for everyone. Our country is under his patronage. In many ways, many of the Vocation Directors here in Canada learn a lot from the good things that are happening in the United States; we pray for an increase of vocations to priesthood and religious life and ask St. Joseph to petition that for us.