Feast of Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary
Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
While we do not know many details of St. Joseph’s life, we do know that he was a skilled craftsman, a carpenter by trade. We also know that he was a righteous man, a just man. He took his calling of husband very seriously, and along with Mary, his wife, taught the child Jesus about God, goodness, compassion, fidelity to tradition and generosity to those in need.
Joseph underwent many struggles as the husband of Mary and the father of Jesus. His happiness at the prospect of taking Mary into his home as his wife was shattered when he discovered that Mary was pregnant. He was not the father. He must have spent many sleepless nights wrestling with the best way to deal with what he thought was Mary’s infidelity. We can image how he must have felt: betrayed, devasted, uncertain of his future and broken-hearted. He was a man of faith, a man of justice, a man who knew the law and who wanted to live according to God’s Law.
But Joseph was also a man of God, formed by his deep faith in the living legacy of the Hebrew scriptures and traditions. His faith helped him accept the God who broke into our human story time and time again, to bring freedom and grace, dignity and hope, a new beginning and a new creation. He believed in a living God, who speaks to us in loving ways, even as God gives us the strength to endure many hardships.
God spoke to Joseph and said to take Mary into his home. He heard and he obeyed. He did the right thing, for he was a righteous man.
Joseph was not only Mary’s loving husband, but he was also Jesus’ loving parent. Along with Mary, Joseph taught Jesus well. Under their care, Jesus grew “steadily in wisdom and age and grace before God and men.” (Luke 2:51)
Jesus, Mary and Joseph did not live during the best of times. They lived in an occupied country that was ruled by a cruel Roman empire and by a puppet Jewish governor, Herod. Furthermore, their religious leaders were divided and fighting each other. At any given time, these authorities could disrupt the lives of the people of Israel. Joseph, head of the family, saw his role as keeping Mary and Jesus safe and secure in the midst of the chaos and confusion that was part of everyday life.
We, the Church, honor and celebrate the life of St. Joseph this day because he is such a good example for us in the world we live in today. More than ever, we live in a world that lacks a moral compass, where good and evil are not recognized as social conditions, and leaders are no longer respectful and committed to the common good.
We celebrate St. Joseph’s fidelity to the traditions of his ancestors. We celebrate his openness to God’s voice in his life. We celebrate his love for his wife, Mary. We celebrate his parenting of his son, Jesus. We celebrate his sense of justice and his integrity.
St. Joseph, husband of Mary and father of Jesus, pray for us!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Mater Dolorosa Community in Sierra Madre, California.