HUMBLE AND HOLY
A humble and holy man, St. Joseph, was the husband of Mary, foster father of Jesus and protector of the Holy Family. "He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasuers, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph's wife. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying, 'Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.'" (St. Bernardine of Siena)
We know little about the penultimate role model of Father's everywhere, except what we glean from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. We know that he was a carpenter, for Matthew 13:55 recounts stories of people asking about Jesus, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" While St. Joseph was of humble spirit and means, both Matthew and Luke record his ancestry as from David, the unparralleled King of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Appearing to Joseph in a dream to reassure him about Mary's pregnancy, the angel greets him as "son of David," a royal title used also for Jesus. His humble means is also reflected in Luke 2:24 which declares that when Joseph took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified, two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons was the offered sacrifice. This seemingly lesser sacrifice would have been reserved for those unable to afford a lamb.
COMPASSIONATE AND CARING
Exemplifying the compassionate, caring man he was, when he discovered that his betrothed, Mary, was pregnant, and knowing the child was not his, he chose to protect her reputation and life. Instead of publicly divorcing her and risking that accused of adultery, she could be stoned to death, he decided to divorce Mary quietly and so as "not expose her to shame or cruelty." (Matthew 1:19-25).
He was the embodiement of faith; obedient to whatever Our Heavenly Father asked of him without knowing the outcome. He trusted when the angel appeared in a dream and revealed to him that the child Mary was carrying was the Son of God. Immediately and without question or concern for the inevitable gossip, Joseph took Mary for his wife. Again, when an angel appeared to tell him that the Holy Family was in danger, without question he left everything he owned, and shepherded his young family to the safety of a strange country. Obediently, he waited in Egypt until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).
His love for Jesus was evidenced by his concern for the safety of this Holy Child entrusted to him. He willingly left his home and everything he had or knew to protect Jesus. In fear for the life of the child Jesus, when the Holy Family was finally able to return to the area, they settled in the smaller, lesser known town of Nazareth in order to remain undetected by those seeking to harm Jesus. In the telling of the story of the Finding of Jesus in the Temple in Luke 2:41-52, it states "When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, 'Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.'" How anxious must Joseph have been? He had spent years moving and hiding to keep Jesus safe and now on a simple, annual Passover trip He was suddenly gone.
CRAFTSMAN AND FATHER
We are told that Joseph spent hours with Jesus in the carpentry shop. Other than his mother Mary, no other human has ever spent as many hours in direct relationship with God through his only Son, Our Lord. Perhaps when Jesus described God as a loving Father, he was remembering his youth and the unconditional love he had from Joseph. Joseph represents the value of integrity, obedience, faithfulness, and especially the importance of honoring the entrusted role of "fatherhood.”
A RIGHTEOUS MAN
Because Joseph is not mentioned in the bible during Jesus's public life, it is assumed that he died before Jesus entered his public ministry. The details of Joseph's life, when and where he was born, how he spent his childhood, when and where he died, are not known to us. However, we do know from scripture the most important aspect of Joseph's character - he was "a righteous man." (Matthew 1:18)
Joseph is the Patron of our Parish, but he is also the Patron Saint of Fathers, Carpenters, Social Justice and the universal Church. He is also the patron of the dying. If we assume he died before Jesus's public ministry began, then we can believe he died with both Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we would all choose to begin our journey home.
There are two feast days for Saint Joseph: March 19 celebrates his role as the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker.
Saint - Illustrious Son of David - Lumen Patriarcharum (Light Among Patriarchs) - Most Chaste Spouse to the Mother of God - Foster Father of the Son of God - Head of the Holy Family - Joseph Most Just - Joseph Most Pure - Joseph Most Pure - Joseph Most Prudent - Joseph Most Courageous - Joseph Most Obedient - Joseph Most Faithful - Mirror of Patience - Lover of Poverty - Model of All Who Labor - Guardian of Virgins - Mainstay of Families - Solace of the Afflicted - Hope of the Sick - Patron of the Dying - Protector of the Holy Church
O glorious St. Joseph, you were chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, the most pure spouse of Mary ever Virgin, and the head of the holy family. You have been chosen by Christ's Vicar as the heavenly patron and protector of the Church founded by Christ. Therefore it is with great confidence that I implore your powerful assistance for the whole Church on earth. Protect in a special manner, with true fatherly love, the Pope and all bishops and priests in communion with the See of Peter. Be the protector of all who labor for souls amid the trials and tribulations of this life, and grant that all peoples of the world may follow Christ and the Church He founded.
Dear St. Joseph, accept the offering of myself which I now make to you. I dedicate myself to your service, that you may ever be my father, my protector, and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me great purity of heart and a fervent love for the spiritual life. May all my actions, after your example, be directed to the greater glory of God, in union with the divine Heart of Jesus, the immaculate heart of Mary, and your own paternal heart. Finally, pray for me that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death. Amen