Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24A
So very little is actually known about Saint Joseph. There are only a few references to him in the Gospels, but in these few we learn much about him. The genealogy of Jesus ends with Joseph the son of Jacob who was betrothed to Mary. Through Joseph Jesus was born of the House of David, even though he was not birth father of Jesus, but through adoption he became a descendent of David.
Joseph and Mary were very much in love. They planned a life together as husband and wife, but that life took an unexpected turn at the Annunciation when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary God’s plan for her to be the mother of the Messiah. She was to conceive this child, not by Joseph, but by the Holy Spirit. When Mary told Joseph that she was pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit, he reacted as any man would, how should he get out of this? He saw two options, to turn her over to the authorities and have her stoned for this crime, or to quietly divorce her. As much as he might have been disappointed and hurt, he was leaning toward the second option. An Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and presented him a third option, God’s hope, that Joseph would take Mary into his home and he would be the chaste spouse to the mother of our redeemer.
The other times we hear of Joseph are when they couple returns to Bethlehem, the City of David, for the Census, and there Mary gives birth to Jesus, the Presentation in Temple, the Holy Family living in their home in Nazareth, the flight into Egypt as they escape the massacre of the Holy Innocents, and when Jesus, at the age of twelve, is separated from them during their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. From these accounts we can gain insight into the holiness of St. Joseph.
Joseph was the loving, caring and protective husband and father. His decision not to turn Mary over to the authorities for adultery when he first heard of her being pregnant, testifies to the love he had for her. A love that was far greater than any hurt or disappointment he was feeling. His becoming the chaste spouse shows the depth of that love and his desire to care for Mary. The love of Joseph is evident in the accounts of the birth of Jesus where he was the steadfast and faithful protector of mother and child. Joseph fully adopted Jesus as his son, cared for him and taught him his carpenter trade. They truly were a holy family with Joseph as the caring head of the household.
The relationship of Joseph with Jesus should sound familiar to us, for it was Jesus who taught us that we have the same relationship with the Father. Through the blood of Jesus we have been adopted as sons and daughters of God. We have a Father in heaven who loves us, cares for us and protects us. Joseph accepted the challenge to be the adopted father of Jesus, God our father has invited us, and in some cases challenged us, to be his adopted children.
On this Solemnity of Saint Joseph we honor a man for graciously and courageously accepting God’s call to do something that seemed unimaginable. May we follow his example and accept God’s call to be his sons and daughters, and live faithfully the beauty of this call.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.