Calling on fathers of Trinidad and Tobago to “own” their children as St Joseph did for Jesus, Archbishop Jason Gordon has lamented the tendency of men in this society to “make children and not own them”. The archbishop said the gospels show that it was Joseph who gave Jesus His royal lineage since it was through Joseph that Jesus was proclaimed to be of the House of David, and that Jesus learnt all the tenets of being a man in that society from his foster father.
The call was made at the annual St Joseph’s Day celebrations in St Joseph Park last Sunday. Noting that St Joseph was the place that governance of Trinidad and Tobago emerged, in his homily to hundreds gathered at the Mass following the procession from the historic church to the park, Archbishop Gordon said St Joseph is the first of all saints in the Bible and it took great faith for him, as a man, to believe what Mary had said about having conceived by the Holy Spirit.
He spoke of Joseph’s integrity in not wanting to bring shame to Mary and wanting to spare her negative publicity, calling him “a man of dreams” who listened to God. “Through a dream he was able to bend his heart to the heart of God…Joseph had to hear the message of God and chose to act,” said the archbishop. Therefore, he added, Joseph was not only a man of integrity but “a man who hears the word of God and puts it into action”. He called on all men to do likewise and “act on the word of God”.
Noting the scriptural play upon the two Josephs’ having gone down into Egypt, Archbishop Gordon said in the same way that Old Testament patriarch Joseph had to go there for the salvation of the House of Jacob, in the New Testament, Joseph taking the child Jesus down into Egypt was for the salvation of all.
Through Joseph the prophecy came, but he said that through Joseph as well, the whole lineage of David and the royal house had its meaning in a time of imposter clans and kings, Joseph being a man of the royal family and a man of honour.
The archbishop lamented that in our society, we are accustomed to men who “make children and do not own them”, unlike Joseph who was a father who did not make Jesus but owned him.
“When Jesus calls God ‘Abba’, He experienced an Abba here on earth who taught Him how to become a son. He had learnt. Joseph gave Him a lineage and gave Him a father…teaching Him all the wonderful attributes of being a man in that society.”
Being called the patron of the Universal Church, the special place that St Joseph has to play in our nation Trinidad and Tobago was reinforced by Archbishop Gordon. He spoke of the wounds that fatherless children carry throughout their adult lives, explaining that just as a father cannot do what a mother does, so too a mother cannot do what a father does for a child’s development.
Children with that balance of both parents are spared such wounds and instead experience a sense of inner peace and wellness within themselves, he further explained. “We need mothers and fathers for our children. We need fathers like Joseph in this land,” he urged, calling on fathers to be there for their children, not just physically but also emotionally.
He asked all men present at the celebration to reflect on their relationships with Jesus, with their fathers and with their children, while asking God to help them to be the fathers He wants them to be and calling for more prayer and the intercession of St Joseph, since “No one knew Jesus better than Mary and Joseph.”
Archbishop Gordon was later presented with a copy of the new St Joseph heritage book authored by Dr Glenroy Taitt and Dr Everard Johnston, who were both also present at the celebrations. Carol Ann Villafana of the planning committee said the new heritage book looks at the church’s earliest foundation in Trinidad and Tobago. The National Trust, under the direction of the Ministry of Planning and Development, helped fund the project.
Speaking to Catholic News, Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis said St Joseph is a “very is significant parish” for Trinidad and Tobago and she was happy to have been invited. As to the archbishop’s comments on fatherhood, she said his remarks were “very poignant in terms of fathers’ relationship with children and wives”. She said the National Trust was the responsibility of her Ministry and that she was happy to be able to assist with the book project.
Both Archbishop Gordon and Minister Regis were presented with copies of the book in gratitude for their support and presence. A birthday tribute was sung for the archbishop and the afternoon was spent in enjoyment of various dance items and parang by the San Jose Serenaders and Las Estrellas de San Jose. – EH