Our Reverend Fathers, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ –
The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross which we celebrate today happens under two very special contexts. The first is the pandemic. The second is the year of Saint Joseph. This is an extraordinary year. Added to it is the 500th anniversary of the First Mass and the First Baptism in our islands. So being the year of Saint joseph as declared by Pope Francis. Let us look at the cross again. How did saint joseph look at the cross? Was Saint Joseph at the crucifixion? Was Saint Joseph present on the way to Calvary? I’m sure you will answer no because the gospels do not mention Saint Joseph being at the crucifixion. And I can understand your “no”. But I would like to invite you to look again and see if Saint Joseph was really not at the crucifixion.
First question – Who taught Jesus that that piece of thing is called wood? Who taught Jesus that that piece of iron is called nail? Who taught Jesus that if you hold this hammer and pound it on the head of the nail, it will pierce through?
A carpenter will teach Jesus what a nail is. A carpenter will teach Jesus what a hammer is. A carpenter will teach Jesus what wood is.
So I am very sure that at that moment when they asked Jesus to lay down on a piece of wood, he remembered Joseph who taught him how to make creative things from wood. To make a house, to make a chair, to make a table and now perhaps in the mind of Jesus, he was asking Joseph – You did not teach me that the wood can also be my crucifixion.
Who taught Jesus that nails should be attached to wood? Who taught Jesus that hammer should not be used on human beings. I am very sure the lessons of Saint Joseph to the child Jesus, as a child… as a carpenter to a child carpenter, were very vivid in the mind of Jesus at Calvary.
Was Saint Joseph not present? Maybe he was not physically present but the lessons he taught Jesus were there. I am sure that as a child, like all children, like you and me, when Jesus played nadapa siya (he stumbled and fell). I am sure he hurt his knees while running, while playing games. And who taught the child Jesus that when you stumble – stand up, stand up! Who taught the child Jesus to stand up and don’t cry? Stand up play again. Stand up. Control your tears. Who taught Jesus that? Who taught Jesus how to stand up when you fall? Who taught Jesus how to stand up when you are bruised? Who taught Jesus to give yourself new opportunities and who taught Jesus to give others new opportunities? I am very sure that when Jesus said to the good thief – Today you will be with me in paradise. – He could remember the lessons Joseph taught him. That you must always be a man of new opportunities. Infinite chances. Do not close doors on others. Do not shut opportunities on others. If you fall, stand up. If you stand up, be sorry and then start again.
Was joseph absent at the crucifixion? Maybe he was absent but I am sure the lessons he taught Jesus – for new opportunities to stand up when you fall – were clear in the mind of the man crucified on the cross. My dear brothers and sisters, when Jesus taught us that God is Father in Heaven, when Jesus said – Father, into Your hands I entrust my spirit. Who taught Jesus how to call God father? And who taught Jesus that Joseph was his Father? He was the only man whom God Himself called father. Was joseph absent at the crucifixion? You can still say no. But you know what the quarantine has taught us? Virtual presence. You know that? As we are having mass here, many more are attending mass by live stream. Virtual presence. And they are present to us here as we are present to them there. The quarantine has taught us virtual presence. It is not technology that brings us together. It is the Lord. And that is why, I say it again, was Joseph at Calvary? He was not present but he was virtually present in the lessons he taught the child Jesus. Was Joseph present at Calvary? He was in the lessons he taught the child Jesus, now an adult. He taught the child Jesus what wood and nails and hammers were. He taught the child Jesus to stand up when you fall. He taught the child Jesus not to give up trying and to keep on giving new chances when you fall. He was the only man whom God Himself called father. And when Jesus said – Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit. – we know He was calling on God our father in heaven but we also know that he was calling on Joseph to meet him at the gates of heaven.
My dear brothers and sisters as you embrace the wood of the cross and the man crucified on it, do not forget the virtual man who taught him to be courageous, to embrace the cross also.
Jesus, teach us to love. Jesus, teach us to look at God as our father. Jesus, teach us to rise up when we fall. Jesus, share with us Joseph so that the lessons Joseph taught you, the same Joseph, may teach us. Saint Joseph, your lessons were very clear at Calvary. Saint Joseph, teach us to be like Jesus.