St. Joseph with Christ Child by Michael D. O'Brian
Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son and you will call His name, Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
If St. Joseph were living in our century, we might describe him as a loyal husband, a hard-working craftsman, a wonderful role model for Jesus, a “down to earth” religious person, a devoted son of the Law, a Faith-filled member of the House of David.
We find little “windows” to St. Joseph’s vocation and mission in the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke. In many ways, he is a “silent man.” We “hear” his actions not his words.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Joseph learns about Mary’s pregnancy. He responds as a faith-filled, loving and trusting husband. “Her husband, Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” In some special circumstances, the Law of Moses tolerated divorce. The Law of Moses determined that the punishment for a woman who had committed adultery was stoning to death. Joseph did not seek the letter of the law, but in a spirit of compassion sought a private separation from Mary because he knew he was not the child’s father.
After being assured by the angel of Mary’s miraculous pregnancy, Joseph lived his vocation as husband to Mary and guardian of Jesus diligently. He became a refugee, an exile in Egypt, to protect his wife and Jesus.
St. Joseph supported his family as a working man, a craftsman. St. Matthew’s and St. Mark’s Gospels describe St. Joseph as a “tekton” – a mechanic in general and a carpenter in particular. He taught those skills to Jesus.
He knew the effects of “job insecurity.” There were times when he needed to travel to other cities and towns to secure employment. Does the need for work possibly explain why he would have moved from Bethlehem, the city of his ancestor David, to the far north, to a province known for its political unrest and extensive non-Jewish population? Herod provided a burst of work opportunities for a “tekton” in Galilee with his plan to build a new and elegant city that would redound to his glory.
The last time Joseph appears in the New Testament is Jesus’ bar mitzvah. He prepared Jesus to become a “son of the Law.” From Joseph’s everyday faith, devoted love, and care of his family, Jesus learned how to live the spirit of the Law.
In 1870, Pope Pius IX named St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. Pope Pius Xll created the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955. We celebrate that feast on the first of May.
St. Joseph, loving husband of Mary, guardian of Jesus and patron of all workers, pray for us!
Sr. Emilie Ann Palladino
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