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Theme of Pope’s general audience: ‘St. Joseph, father in tenderness’

January 19, 2022

At his January 19 general audience—the eight in a series of Wednesday audiences on St. Joseph—Pope Francis reflected on St. Joseph’s tenderness, as well as Jesus’ teaching on God the Father’s tenderness.

Previous audiences were devoted to St. Joseph and the environment in which he lived (November 17), St. Joseph and salvation history (November 24), St. Joseph, just man and husband of Mary (December 1), and St. Joseph, man of silence (December 15), St. Joseph, persecuted and courageous migrant (December 29), St. Joseph, Jesus’ foster father (January 5), and St. Joseph the Carpenter (January 12). (There was no general audience on December 8, and the December 22 audience was devoted to preparation for Christmas.)

“In our continuing catechesis on the figure of Saint Joseph, we now consider his example of fatherly love and its importance in the life of Jesus,” Pope Francis said to pilgrims assembled in Paul VI Audience Hall, according to the official Vatican summary of his remarks. “In the Gospels, significantly, Jesus always appeals to the image of an earthly father when speaking of his heavenly Father and his love.”

The summary continued:

We see this especially in the parable of the prodigal son (cf. Lk 15:11-32), which speaks not only of sin and forgiveness, but also of the love that renews and redeems broken relationships. Like the prodigal son, we too are invited to acknowledge our sins and failings, but also to let ourselves be changed by the loving embrace of the Lord.

God’s tender love is also seen in the trust he places in us to carry out his will by the power of his grace, which works even through our human weaknesses. As a loving Father, God helps us to see the truth about ourselves, in order to make us grow to spiritual maturity in Christ.

That is why it is so important to encounter his merciful love in the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of Reconciliation. Through Saint Joseph’s intercession, may we learn to follow Christ and to be witnesses to the transforming power of his divine love.


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