The pope noted that Jesus came into the world as a vulnerable child.
“This Child is the One who will say: ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:40). Therefore, every person who is hungry and thirsty, every stranger, every person without clothes, every sick person, every prisoner is the ‘Child’ whom Joseph looks after,” he said.
“And we are invited to guard these people, these brothers and sisters of ours, as Joseph did. That is why he is invoked as protector of all the needy, the exiled, the afflicted, and even the dying — we spoke about this last Wednesday.”
“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. Each of these realities is always the Child and His mother. We are to guard, for by this we guard Jesus, as Joseph did.”
Concluding his final catechesis on St. Joseph, Pope Francis urged Catholics to turn to the saint at the most difficult times for them and their communities.
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“Where our mistakes become a scandal, let us ask St. Joseph to give us the courage to speak the truth, ask for forgiveness, and humbly begin again,” he said.
“Where persecution prevents the Gospel from being proclaimed, let us ask St. Joseph for the strength and patience to endure abuse and suffering for the sake of the Gospel.”
“Where material and human resources are scarce and make us experience poverty, especially when we are called to serve the last, the defenseless, the orphans, the sick, the rejected of society, let us pray to St. Joseph to be Providence for us.”
A summary of the pope’s catechesis was read out in seven languages and he greeted members of each language group.
In his address to English-speaking Catholics, he said: “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from Nigeria and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!”
Speaking to Italian pilgrims, he referred to the Order of Clerics Regular Minor. He recalled that a young member of the order, Father Richard Masivi Kasereka, was killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Feb. 2 after offering Mass on the World Day of Consecrated Life.
He said: “The death of Father Richard, victim of unjustifiable and deplorable violence, should not discourage his family, his religious family and the entire Christian community of that nation from being heralds and witnesses of goodness and fraternity, despite the difficulties, imitating the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.”
Pope Francis concluded his catechesis by reading the prayer to St. Joseph at the end of his apostolic letter:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.