St. Joseph’s Feast Day – March 19th
Saint Joseph, Patron Saint of Families, is the silent man of the New Testament. He plays a vital role in the first chapters of the gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. However, neither evangelist records anything St. Joseph said. But if he does not speak, he certainly does act.
St. Joseph’s Ancestry
Joseph was born in Bethlehem, the hometown of David. In fact, Joseph could trace his ancestry back to the shepherd boy who became king of Israel.
Joseph’s Early Life
When we first meet Joseph in the gospels, he has moved north to the town of Nazareth in Galilee. He works as a carpenter. In Nazareth, Joseph became engaged to Mary. Sometime before their wedding, the Archangel Gabriel made the announcement to the Blessed Virgin that she was going to be the Mother of the Savior.
The gospels do not say when Mary told Joseph that she was pregnant. What we do know is that Joseph assumed Mary was unfaithful to him and that she was to bear some other man’s child. Feeling hurt and shame, Joseph, being a righteous man, made plans to break off their engagement quietly. Before Joseph could act, however, an angel visited him saying, “Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take Mary as your wife, for the child within her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins.”
This is how the Holy Family began, with an angel assuring Mary and Joseph that what was out of the ordinary to them was in fact all part of God’s plan to redeem the world.
Joseph’s Role as Step-Father
Every time we see Joseph thereafter, we see him taking loving are of Jesus and Mary. In Bethlehem on that first Christmas night, he wanders the streets looking for a decent place where Mary can give birth. When King Herod schemes to murder the Christ Child, it is Joseph, warned by an angel, who gets Jesus and Mary safely to Egypt. And when Herod is dead and it is safe to come home, Joseph brings his family to Nazareth.
Finally, the last time Joseph appears in the gospels is when he and Mary search Jerusalem for three anxious days, looking for the Child Jesus.
The evangelists never mention Joseph again. Biblical scholars always assume that he must have died before Christ began His public ministry. If he had been alive, there would have been no need for Jesus, as He hung from the cross, to ask St. John to look after Mary.
Joseph – Our Heavenly Protector
Families have always found comfort in having St. Joseph as their heavenly protector. Blessed Pope Pius IX probably had that in mind in 1870 when he named Saint Joseph the Patron Saint of our extended family, the Catholic Church.