Bishop Kemme closes year of St. Joseph

A statue of St. Joseph and a reproduction of the window in the Cathedral depicting the Immaculate Conception of Mary decorated the sanctuary during the Mass marking the closing of the Year of St. Joseph. (Catholic Advance screen grab)

Bishop Carl A. Kemme closed the Year of St. Joseph on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Tuesday, Dec. 7, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita.

He reiterated the church’s teaching that the Blessed Virgin was conceived in her mother’s womb without original sin.

Bishop Kemme delivers his homily about the end of the Year of St. Joseph from his cathedra. (Advance photo)

“This unique and singular favor was offered to her in order to provide the purest womb in which the Savior would be placed by the Holy Spirit and from which he would eventually be born in time. Her womb was thus a tabernacle of the Most High, the Ark of the New Covenant,” he said.

Bishop Kemme said the Mass marked the end of the Year of St. Joseph and then reflected on the year. “What a great year it has been for us here in the Diocese of Wichita, giving room in our devotional lives to this man, who like Mary was chosen for a special purpose in the history of salvation.”

Many have made a consecration to St. Joseph, the bishop said, and many have made pilgrimages to some or all of the nine churches in the diocese named after him. “Many men particularly have mentioned to me how much they appreciated this time to reflect on their role in the family, in marriage and in fatherhood, using St. Joseph as a perfect example. For all of this and so much more we can rightly give thanks to God as we bring this year to its conclusion.”

Mary had deep respect for Joseph

Bishop Kemme said we see St. Joseph through the eyes of Mary and Jesus who looked upon him with the deepest of honor, respect, and love.

“Jesus knew Joseph as his father and provider, the one who would hand on to him the best of their Jewish traditions, who would have taught Jesus how to pray, how to observe Shabbat, or the sabbath, how to honor God in the psalms, and how to read the sacred scriptures,” the bishop said. “Jesus would learn from Joseph the trade of carpenter and instill in him the virtue of hard work and dedication. We can presume that they spent many an hour in each other’s company.”

Mary loved Joseph with a spousal love that rose above carnal desire – an entirely spiritual union. “Mary would have treasured seeing Joseph and Jesus together in the workshop or on their way to synagogue or even to the temple, fulfilling their Jewish rituals and responsibilities. Hers was a joy unmatched by any other wife and mother.”

Few words attributed to Mary and Joseph

As important as both Mary and Joseph are in the Gospels, he said, there are only a few words attributed to Mary and none to St. Joseph.

“If their silence mystifies us, let me suggest that often silence speaks louder than words. The silence of their witness is profound and, like still waters, runs deep. From their silence, we hear much more than if they both spoke often. Their silence speaks of the importance of presence, perseverance, long-suffering, and the highest form and degree of love.”

Bishop Kemme suggested the faithful embrace that silence through Advent and the Christmas season and do so even more in the Year of the Eucharist.

“Not just a silence of emptiness, but a silence of spiritual stillness, fullness, presence, and awareness,” the bishop said. “A silence that allows for meditation and contemplation of the mysteries of our holy faith. If we adopt this kind of silent witness in our lives, then this year of St. Joseph and the witness Joseph offers us will have born in us much fruit.”

Bishop: Offer your life to Jesus

Bishop Kemme reminded his flock that Mary and Joseph made their fiat to the Lord’s will, freely offering their lives to Jesus as part of the Holy Family.

“Both can rightly be praised even on solemnities such as this one, the Immaculate Conception, as well as every other feast day dedicated to one or the other. For they were two sides of the same coin, so to speak, and both live eternally now with Jesus in heaven. May Mary and Joseph’s fiat inspire us to make our own each day to the life of a disciple and may they help us do so by their prayers from heaven.”