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Pope’s unique take on Christian vocation: ‘safeguarding’

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 02/16/22

To safeguard life, to safeguard human development, to safeguard the human mind, to safeguard the human heart, to safeguard human work. The Christian — we could say — is like St Joseph: he must safeguard.

Pope Francis wrapped up his series of catecheses on St. Joseph at the general audience of February 16, meditating on St. Joseph as “patron of the Church,” and saying that this characteristic of Jesus’ father is one that should apply to us all.

At the end of every story in which Joseph is the protagonist, the Gospel notes that he takes the Child and His mother with him and does what God has ordered him to do. Thus, the fact that Joseph’s task is to protect Jesus and Mary stands out.

The treasure of the God-made-man and his mother is safeguarded by Joseph.

“And we too,” said the Pope, citing Patris corde, ”We should always consider whether we ourselves are protecting Jesus and Mary, for they are also mysteriously entrusted to our own responsibility, care and safekeeping.'”

And here there is a very beautiful trace of the Christian vocation: to safeguard. To safeguard life, to safeguard human development, to safeguard the human mind, to safeguard the human heart, to safeguard human work. The Christian — we could say — is like St Joseph: he must safeguard.

To be a Christian is not only to receive the faith, to confess the faith, but to safeguard life, one’s own life, the life of others, the life of the Church. The Son of the Most High came into the world in a condition of great weakness: Jesus was born like this, weak, weak. He wanted to be defended, protected, cared for.

God trusted Joseph …

“God trusted Joseph,” said the Pope, and so did Mary, “who found in him the bridegroom who loved and respected her and always took care of her and the Child.”

This Child identifies himself with all who are weak, the Holy Father noted.

Therefore, every person who is hungry and thirsty, every stranger, every migrant, every person without clothes, every sick person, every prisoner is the “Child” whom Joseph looks after. And we are invited to safeguard these people, these our brothers and sisters, as Joseph did. […]

And we too must learn from Joseph to “safeguard” these goods: to love the Child and His mother; to love the sacraments and the people of God; to love the poor and our parish.

Do we love the Church?

Drawing from this reflection, the Pope exhorted us to recognize all the “goodness and holiness that are present in the Church.”

Nowadays it is common, it is an everyday occurrence, to criticise the Church, to point out its inconsistencies — there are many — to point out its sins, which in reality are our inconsistencies, our sins, because the Church has always been a people of sinners who encounter God’s mercy.

Let us ask ourselves if, in our hearts, we love the Church as she is, the People of God on the journey, with many limitations, but with a great desire to serve and to love God. In fact, only love makes us capable of speaking the truth fully, in a non-partisan way; of saying what is wrong, but also of recognising all the goodness and holiness that are present in the Church, starting precisely with Jesus and Mary.

Loving the Church, safeguarding the Church and walking with the Church. […] Safeguarding one another, looking out for each other. This is a good question: when I have a problem with someone, do I try to look after them, or do I immediately condemn them, spit on them, destroy them? We must safeguard, always safeguard!

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Pope Francis
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