For some time now I have enjoyed using a moving invocation to St Joseph, which the Church has offered us, in the preparatory prayers of the Mass: "Joseph, blessed and happy man, who was permitted to see and hear the God whom many kings wished in vain to see and hear, and not only to see and hear him, but carry him in your arms, kiss him, clothe him and care for him: pray for us." This prayer will help us to begin the last topic on which I would like to touch today: Joseph's affectionate dealings with Jesus.

The life of Jesus was, for St Joseph, a recurring discovery of his own vocation. We recalled earlier those first years full of contrasting circumstances: glorification and flight, the majesty of the wise men and the poverty of the manger, the song of the angels and the silence of mankind. When the moment comes to present the child in the temple, Joseph, who carries the modest offering of a pair of doves, sees how Simeon and Anna proclaim Jesus as the Messiah: "His father and mother listened with wonder," says St Luke. Later, when the child stays behind in Jerusalem, unknown to Mary and Joseph, and they find him again after three days' search, the same evangelist tells us, "They were astonished."

Joseph is surprised and astonished. God gradually reveals his plans to him, and he tries to understand them. As with every soul who wishes to follow Jesus closely, he soon discovers that here is no laggard's pace, no room for the half-hearted. For God is not content with our achieving a certain level and staying there. He doesn't want us to rest on our laurels. God always asks more: his ways are not the ways of men. St Joseph, more than anyone else before or since, learned from Jesus to be alert to recognize God's wonders, to have his mind and heart awake.

This point in another language