Marking the feast of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Virgin Mary, Pope Francis called the saint a role model for all fathers and educators during his General Audience this Wednesday at the Vatican. “Let us look at Joseph as the model for educators, for he guards and accompanies Jesus in his journey of growth ‘in wisdom, age, and grace,’” the Pope urged March 19 in St. Peter’s Square. Examining these three modes of Jesus’ growth in life, Pope Francis began with his growth in age: “Joseph, together with Mary, took care of Jesus first of all from this point of view, that is, ‘brought him up,’” — with all the worries of providing for necessities that this entails. “Don’t forget that the faithful caring for the life of the Child led to the flight into Egypt, the harsh experience of living as refugees — Joseph as a refugee, with Mary and Jesus — to escape the threat of Herod.” Pope Francis noted that in raising Jesus, St. Joseph also taught him his trade of carpentry. Continuing on to the second dimension of education, that of wisdom, Pope Francis called St. Joseph Christ’s “example and teacher of the wisdom, which is nourished by the Word of God.” “We can consider how Joseph taught the young Jesus to listen to the Holy Scriptures, especially accompanying him on the sabbath to the synagogue of Nazareth.” Turning to Jesus’ growth in grace, Pope Francis said that while “here, certainly, the part reserved to St. Joseph is more limited than in the areas of age and wisdom,” nevertheless “it would be a grave error to think that a father and a mother can do nothing to teach their children to grow in the grace of God.” “To grow in age, to grow in wisdom, to grow in grace: this is the work Joseph did with Jesus, helping him to grow in these three dimensions.” While noting that St. Joseph’s mission “certainly is irrepeatable, because Jesus is absolutely unique,” in his caring for Jesus as he grew in age, wisdom, and grace, “he is a model for all educators, in particular for all fathers.” “So I entrust to his protection all parents, all priests — who are fathers --, and those who have an educating role in the Church and in society.” He greeted all the fathers in the square, telling them he has asked for them “the grace to be always very close to your children, allowing them the room to grow, but being close, close!” “They need you, your presence, your nearness, your love. Be for them as St. Joseph: guardians of their grow in age, wisdom, and grace.” “Thank you for all you do for your children: thank you. Best wishes to you, and happy father’s day to all fathers here, to all fathers. May St. Joseph bless you and accompany you.” Concluding his address, Pope Francis led the crowd in praying an Our Father “for our fathers.”
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