For us who love St. Joseph, and for us who have attended many fiestas in honor of St. Joseph, what more can we hear about this man that we have not yet heard? For this evening, I limit myself to only one word to reflect upon. It is that beautiful Tagalog virtue—katapatan.
Every time I remember St. Joseph, that is the only word that comes to my mind—katapatan. We have so much need for katapatan in our society, in the world, and in the Church. The word katapatan in Tagalog has many meanings in English.
The first meaning of the word katapatan in English is faithfulness. Somebody who is tapat is faithful. Faithfulness allows commitment to be tested by time. Commitment is tested by crisis, and then this commitment is made to shine even more because of the crisis.
The Chinese have a way of putting it. They say, we will only know the color of the tea when we put it in hot water. So it is with us. We will know our true color when we’re put in hot water. We are men and women in search of faithfulness and the first victim of unfaithfulness is our own families and marriages. Less and less people believe in the power of the sacrament of matrimony. That is why when two young people approach the sacrament, their guests shake their heads as they look at the young couple and they pray, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And the night of the honeymoon, the husband looks at the wife and says the words, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” After one year, the husband looks at the wife again and says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Faithfulness. As gold is tested by fire, as we know the color of the tea by its immersion in hot water, faithfulness is tested by time, tested by crisis. St. Joseph has always been that faithful man. Matapat.
The second meaning of katapatan in English is truthfulness. Truthfulness is honesty. Katapatan means living in truth all the time. Katapatan means refusing the attraction of half-truths all the time. St. Joseph was always a truthful man because he was a caretaker of Truth made Flesh. Later on in life, the child that St. Joseph took care of will say, “I am the Truth, I am the Way, I am the Light.” St. Joseph had no other way but to live in truthfulness, to live in katapatan all the time, no matter what the price may have been, no matter what the cost may have been.
In our age and time, we have the problem of truthfulness. We do not know whom to believe anymore. Who is that psychiatrist who said, “If we cannot believe anybody anymore, we would all go crazy?” Truthfulness is translated into commitment to truth and courage all the time. The truth is God and we are not God. Let our prayer be, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” Let us allow the Lord to speak to us and let us keep quiet. We are creatures, not creators.
The third meaning of katapatan in English, we derive by changing the accent in Tagalog and we say katapatan, and the meaning changes. Katapatan means the one to whom I open up, the one I trust, the one who listens to me. Katapatan ko, pinagkakatiwalaan ko. Katapatan ko, pinagbubuksan kong kalooban. Katapatan means my friend. My katapatan is my friend, and there is no greater love than to die for your brother.
At the sunset of life, God is not going to ask us, how many fiestas we have attended, and how many novenas we have completed. At the sunset of life, God is not going to ask us how powerful we were, how popular we were, how wealthy we were. At the sunset of life, we will only be judged according to love. At the sunset of life, the Lord is only going to ask us one question, “How much love did you put into the world?” The mark of Christianity is in giving and people who cannot give do not become richer. People who do not give die early. They die even if they are still breathing, because the essence of living is in giving.
Let us pray to the Lord so that the same katapatan, which St. Joseph exemplifies in his life, may be ours also. Faithfulness, truthfulness, friendship.
Love Like Jesus