Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today’s two readings feature Saint Joseph.
It’s hard to think of a biblical figure who plays as important a role as Joseph who is mentioned so seldom. His name makes only 13 appearances among the four gospels.
In his quiet way, Joseph is the pivotal figure in the story of our salvation. An observant Jew and an honorable man, he kept the old covenant while making the new one possible. Against his initial judgment, he chose to trust what was privately revealed to him and take Mary into his home.
One can only imagine the confusion he must have felt, but he did as he was asked. As it turns out, more was asked of him than he had bargained for. (I don’t recall the angel mentioning on his first visit that there would be a flight to Egypt in his future!)
That’s part of what makes Joseph the perfect patron saint for fathers. It’s unlikely that Joseph knew exactly what he was getting into, but he grew into the responsibility that was thrust upon him.
I have developed a devotion to Joseph in recent years, because I see more and more how he has modeled fatherhood as a spiritual path. Unlike Mary, he was not without sin. There was no eloquent response to God’s call as with the Magnificat. Only the quiet agreement to do what was best for his wife and child. We can almost imagine him grunting and shrugging his shoulders as he agreed to take on this responsibility.
Joseph is also the patron saint of the happy death. Although the Gospels don’t tell us when and how Joseph died, tradition holds that he died peacefully and certainly without having to endure the anguish of bearing witness to the passion.
I have not always been prepared for what fatherhood has required of me. As I enter my fourth decade of parenthood, I find myself often turning to Saint Joseph for inspiration and for guidance.
When the angel of the Lord said to Joseph, “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins,” was he issuing a command or simply predicting what Joseph would do of his own free will?
Saint Joseph, foster father to Jesus, foster me as well. Watch over me as I watch over my family. Foster in me the same faith that you had when you were called to serve your God and your family.
Copyright 2015 Kirk Whitney