Pope Francis Says Act Like Saint Joseph "....who reacts to fear with the courage to trust in God’s Providence." FULL TEXT + Video


Paul VI Audience Hall - Wednesday, 29 December 2021


Catechesis on Saint Joseph - 5. Saint Joseph, persecuted and courageous migrant

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today I would like to present Saint Joseph to you as a persecuted and courageous migrant. This is how the Evangelist Matthew describes him. This particular event in the life of Jesus, which also involves Joseph and Mary, is traditionally known as “the flight into Egypt” (cf. Mt 2:13-23).


 The family of Nazareth suffered such humiliation and experienced first-hand the precariousness, fear and pain of having to leave their homeland. Today so many of our brothers and sisters are still forced to experience the same injustice and suffering. The cause is almost always the arrogance and violence of the powerful. This was also the case for Jesus.

King Herod learns from the Magi of the birth of the “King of the Jews”, and the news shocks him. He feels insecure, he feels that his power is threatened. So, he gathers together all the leaders of Jerusalem to find out the place of His birth, and begs the Magi to inform him of the precise details, so that - he says falsely - he too can go and worship him. But when he realised that the Magi had set out in another direction, he conceived a wicked plan: to kill all the children in Bethlehem under the age of two years, which was the period of time, according to the calculations of the Magi, in which Jesus was born.

In the meantime, an angel orders Joseph: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him” (Mt 2:13). Think today of the many people who feel this impulse within: “Let’s flee, let’s flee, because there is danger here”. Herod’s plan calls to mind that of Pharaoh to throw all the male children of the people of Israel into the Nile (cf. Ex 1:22). The flight into Egypt evokes the whole history of Israel beginning with Abraham, who also sojourned there (cf. Gen 12:10); to Joseph, son of Jacob, sold by his brothers (cf. Gen 37:36) before becoming “ruler of the land” (cf. Gen 41:37-57); and to Moses, who freed his people from the slavery of the Egyptians (cf. Ex 1:18).

The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt saves Jesus, but unfortunately it does not prevent Herod from carrying out his massacre. We are thus faced with two opposing personalities: on the one hand, Herod with his ferocity, and on the other hand, Joseph with his care and courage. Herod wants to defend his power, his own skin, with ruthless cruelty, as attested to by the execution of one of his wives, some of his children and hundreds of opponents. He was a cruel man: to solve problems, he had just one answer: to kill. He is the symbol of many tyrants of yesteryear and of today. And for them, for these tyrants, people do not count; power is what counts, and if they need space for power, they do away with people. And this happens today: we do not need to look at ancient history, it happens today. He is the man who becomes a “wolf” for other men. History is full of figures who, living at the mercy of their fears, try to conquer them by exercising power despotically and carrying out inhuman acts of violence. But we must not think that we live according to Herod's outlook only if we become tyrants, no; in fact, it is an attitude to which we can all fall prey, every time we try to dispel our fears with arrogance, even if only verbal, or made up of small abuses intended to mortify those close to us. We too have in our heart the possibility of becoming little Herods.

Joseph is the opposite of Herod: first of all, he is “a just man” (Mt 1:19), and Herod is a dictator. Furthermore, he proves he is courageous in following the Angel’s command. One can imagine the vicissitudes he had to face during the long and dangerous journey and the difficulties involved in staying in a foreign country, with another language: many difficulties. His courage emerges also at the moment of his return, when, reassured by the Angel, he overcomes his understandable fears and settles with Mary and Jesus in Nazareth (cf. Mt 2:19-23). Herod and Joseph are two opposing characters, reflecting the two ever-present faces of humanity. It is a common misconception to consider courage as the exclusive virtue of the hero. In reality, the daily life of every person requires courage. Our way of living – yours, mine, everyone’s: one cannot live without courage, the courage to face each days’ difficulties. In all times and cultures, we find courageous men and women who, in order to be consistent with their beliefs, have overcome all kinds of difficulties, and have endured injustice, condemnation and even death. Courage is synonymous with fortitude, which together with justice, prudence and temperance is part of the group of human virtues known as “cardinal virtues”.

The lesson Joseph leaves us with today is this: life always holds adversities in store for us, this is true, in the face of which we may also feel threatened and afraid. But it is not by bringing out the worst in ourselves, as Herod does, that we can overcome certain moments, but rather by acting like Joseph, who reacts to fear with the courage to trust in God’s Providence. Today I think we need a prayer for all migrants; migrants and all the persecuted, and all those who are victims of adverse circumstances: be they political, historical or personal circumstances. But, let us think of the many people who are victims of wars, who want to flee from their homeland but cannot; let us think of the migrants who set out on that road to be free, so many of whom end up on the street or in the sea; let us think of Jesus in the arms of Joseph and Mary, fleeing, and let us see in him each one of the migrants of today. Migration today is a reality to which we cannot close our eyes. It is a social scandal of humanity.

Saint Joseph,
you who have experienced the suffering of those who must flee
you who were forced to flee
to save the lives of those dearest to you,
protect all those who flee because of war,
hatred, hunger.
Support them in their difficulties,
Strengthen them in hope, and let them find welcome and solidarity.
Guide their steps and open the hearts of those who can help them. Amen.


Special Greetings

Je salue cordialment les personnes de langue française présentes aujourd'hui. Que la joie de Noël ne nous fasse pas oublier ceux qui, comme la Sainte Famille en Egypte, sont loin de chez eux et de leurs proches. Que Dieu vous bénisse.

I cordially greet the French-speaking faithful present today. May the joy of Christmas not make us forget those who, like the Holy Family in Egypt, are far from home and from their loved ones. God bless you! ]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. In the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, may each of you, and your families, cherish the joy of this Christmas season, and so draw near in prayer to the Savior who has come to dwell among us. May God bless you!

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern deutscher Sprache, ich bitte euch um euer Gebet für die Migranten, für die Verfolgten und für alle, die sich alleingelassen fühlen und ihren Mut verloren haben. Der Herr schenke ihnen Hoffnung und helfe uns ihnen beizustehen. Gesegnete Feiertage!

Dear German-speaking brothers and sisters, I ask for your prayers for migrants, for the persecuted and for all those who feel abandoned and discouraged. May the Lord give them hope and help us to be close to them. Happy Holidays! ]

I cordially greet los peregrinos de lengua española. En este tiempo de Navidad, imploremos al Señor Jesús, por intercesión de la Virgen y de san José, que nos conceda la gracia de fiarnos de la Providencia divina en todo moment, y también la valentía de acoger con espíritu cristiano de caridad y solidaridad a todos nuestros hermanos y hermanas que han tenido que huir de su tierra y abandonar sus hogares. Que el Señor nos grant an año nuevo lleno de sus dones y sus bendiciones. Muchas gracias.

Queridos irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa, a minha cordial saudação para todos vós. Desejo a cada um que semper resplandeça, no vosso coração, família e comunidade, a luz do Salvador, que nos revela o rosto terno e mercordioso do Pai do Céu. Abracemos or Deus Menino, colocando-nos ao seu serviço: Ele is a source of love and serenity. Ele vos abençoe com um Ano Novo sereno and feliz!

Dear Portuguese-speaking brothers and sisters, I greet you all from my heart. I wish each of you that the light of the Savior will always shine forth in your hearts and on your family and community, revealing to us the tender and merciful face of the heavenly Father. Let us hold the Child Jesus in our arms and put ourselves at his service: he is the source of love and serenity. He bless you for a peaceful and happy New Year! ]

أحيّي المؤمنينَ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربيّة. لتكن شجاعة يوسف, الذي اتكل على العناية الإلهية, مصدر إلهام والتزام لنا جميعا أمام الأطفال, حتى نعلمهم أنه بهذه الطريقة فقط يمكننا أن نبعد كل شر ونوقف كل هرب من دون خوف. أتَمَنَّى لَكُم جَميعًا سنة جديدة مطمئنة!

I greet the Arabic-speaking faithful. May Joseph's courage, entrusted to God's Providence, be a source of inspiration and commitment for all of us in front of the children, to teach them that only in this way is it possible to reject all evil and stem every flight without fear. I wish everyone a happy New Year! ]

Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, zbliżając się do końca tego roku dziękujmy Panu za otrzymane łaski i za każde dobro, jakiego pozwolił nam doświadczyć, mimo wszelkich trudności naszych czasów. Przez wstawiennictwo Maryi Świętej Bożej Rodzicielki i św. Józefa, Jej oblubieńca, módlmy się, aby przyszły rok był szczęśliwy dla nas i dla wszystkich ludzi, aby ustąpiła pandemic i byśmy wives cieszyć się pokojem w naszychsych sercach. Boże błogosławieństwo niech wam zawsze towarzyszy!

I cordially greet the Polish pilgrims. Dear brothers and sisters, as we approach the end of this year we thank the Lord for the graces received and for all the good that he has allowed us to experience, despite all the difficulties of our times. Through the intercession of Mary Most Holy Mother of God and of Saint Joseph her spouse we pray that next year will be happy for us and for all men, that the pandemic will cease and we can enjoy peace in our hearts, in our families, in our our societies and in the world. May God's blessing be with you always! Thank you. ]

* * *

With the joy of the Christmas atmosphere, I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I urge them to renew their adherence to the poor, humble and obedient Christ in order to transmit God's love and mercy in today's context. Then I greet the adolescents and young people of Librino, San Fermo della Battaglia, Villa d'Almé, Portogruaro, Clusone, Celadina di Bergamo, Gravedona and Trento who have arrived in Rome at this Christmas time to have formative and charitable experiences: go forward with joy and tenacity in the path undertaken.

Finally, as usual, my thoughts go to the elderly, the sick, the young and the newlyweds. Know how to be strong in faith, looking to the divine Child, who in the mystery of Christmas offers himself as a gift for all humanity.

My blessing to all.