MOLO, Iloilo City, April 28, 2016 – As one of the important themes highlighted by Pope Francis in his latest apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), to complement the positive achievements of feminism, is the importance of promoting a healthy virility, a Bible scholar sees in St. Joseph an exact model of gentle and fatherly manliness.
“A closer reading of the Gospels reveals that St. Joseph was a strong protector and a responsible provider as can be observed in the way he took care of the Child Jesus and Holy Mary,” said Fr. Rey Zerrudo in an interview with CBCP News.
The professor of Biblical Studies in St. Joseph Regional Seminary and parish priest of San Jose Obrero Parish in Molo, Iloilo City, underscored that the threats the Holy Family had to face in their time are analogous to the challenges families have to confront in modern times.
A firm protector
“St. Joseph was a man who could make firm decisions as he had to protect the Child Jesus and Holy Mary from the attacks of King Herod’s men. Afterwards, on their return to Israel from Egypt, he took the initiative of settling in another town, in Nazareth instead of Bethlehem, upon learning that Archelaus, who was twice as cruel as Herod, was reigning [in] Judea.”
“God sets the father in the family so that by the gifts of his masculinity he can be ‘close to his wife and share everything, joy and sorrow, hope and hardship’,” says Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia.
Recalling his encounter with families in Manila, the Pope said, “The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by a lack of openness to life.”
Pope Francis was referring to the threat that actually destroys families: the source of this destruction he called “ideological colonization.”
A good provider
In another episode in the Gospels, the finding of the Child Jesus in the temple, the priest saw in St. Joseph “a conscientious worker and a good provider.”
“St. Joseph was able to provide well for his family. For a craftsman to have time to go every year from Nazareth to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover meant that he worked hard and saved for his family to the extent that, as a father, he could be with them to celebrate occasions that are important for their faith and the family.”
“In our day, the problem no longer seems to be the overbearing presence of the father so much as his absence, his not being there. Fathers are often so caught up in themselves and their work, and at times in their own self-fulfillment, that they neglect their families,” the pontiff himself noted in his latest apostolic exhortation.
For St. Joseph to be regarded as a model of fathers could not be emphasized more. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas / CBCP News)