HENRITZE: St. Joseph is a model of service

March 8, 2022

(Photo by Fred de Noyelle / Godong)

This past December ended the year of St. Joseph, which marked the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph being declared the Patron of the Universal Church. I was part of a small group of men who completed our consecration to St. Joseph on Dec. 8, 2020, the day Pope Francis officially announced the year of St. Joseph.

Needless to say, we were awestruck by the divine providence of the situation. There are many aspects of devotion to St. Joseph that a person can focus on. Here I want to briefly share how Joseph’s model of service has impacted me and the way I live out my call to missionary discipleship.

Joseph was not a king, though he descended from the line of David. Though Joseph was not a prominent or important figure in the community, he carried out the loftiest work of all men. Joseph did not live a life of luxury, but he did live a life of abundance through the work of his hands and the devotion of his faith. Joseph never speaks in Sacred Scripture, but the sound of his influence resonates through the ages.

When Jesus is instructing His Apostles and says to them: “Whoever wishes to be the greatest among you must become a servant,” I imagine that our Lord recalls the countless moments in His life when Joseph served his family. Joseph is the prime model of generous and selfless service.

He had kingly blood running through his veins, yet he did not hesitate to work through the toil of his hands and the sweat of his brow. I would find it difficult to believe that the deadly sin of avarice ever stained the soul of St. Joseph. He did not work or serve for wealth or recognition; he was rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Joseph knew, possibly more than anyone, the simple and complete joy of welcoming Jesus into his heart and into his home.

It is not a stretch to say that some of the most authentic and meaningful acts of service are the ones that remain hidden and unrecognized by the world. When you quietly wash the dishes because you see that your spouse has had a particularly rough day, there is no fanfare to announce your action. When your spouse is grocery shopping and buys you your favorite snack food, there is no trumpet blaring to announce their affection.

These acts remain a hidden secret of your intimate love. Small acts of service that sanctity both the giver and the one who receives.

We will never know the countless ways that Joseph has served Jesus, Mary, and the Universal Church. What we can do is seek to imitate his humility and his heart of service. To love is to will the good of another. Serving those around us in imitation of St. Joseph encapsulates that definition of love and fulfills the calling of every disciple to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself surely imitates His foster father, Joseph. 

Brian Henritze is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.