The year 2021 is the Year of St. Joseph. Here are some things that stand out about this Holy man.
- He was likely adopted himself*
There is evidence from the genealogy of Jesus that St. Joseph himself was adopted. This shows that St. Joseph likely understood how to welcome Jesus as his adopted son. We learn that God permits certain life experiences to prepare us for our ultimate vocation or purpose in this life.
- Changed his Plan for God
Joseph seems to have been ready to change his plans upon God’s request or simply to obey the law. From Nazareth to Bethlehem, Bethlehem to Egypt, Egypt back to Nazareth. All of this in less than 12 years. Joseph obviously lived a type of holy detachment from his own plans. The type that God could use for his amazing plan of salvation.
- Accepted the Circumstances
Joseph accepted many unknowns without complaint. How did Mary get pregnant? Why didn’t God provide a nicer place than a stable for her to bear a child? Why didn’t God ensure that King Herod did not set out to kill the Messiah? Joseph probably had many questions but his actions indicate that he let his trust in God rule him, and not his doubts.
- Just Man
Being just means he did everything right. He had an exemplary ability to integrate all the applicable virtues. See how he planned to end his engagement with Mary but in a manner that would not put her to shame (Mt. 1:19).
- A good man & worker
Joseph taught Jesus how to be a good man and a good worker. That is why Jesus himself was known as a carpenter (Mk 6: 3) and it was said of Jesus that “he did all things well.” (Mark 7:37). Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, every year on May 1. Ask St. Joseph for help in your daily work.
- Relaxed In the Face of Problems
Joseph slept in the face of the difficulty. He went to sleep even though he had a problem on his hands: Mary was pregnant and not by him. It was in his rest that God spoke to him about the solution: to take Mary as his wife. Today, the image of a sleeping St. Joseph is revered by many, including Pope Francis, as a reminder to not lose sleep over our problems. Leave them in the hands of God and go to sleep.
Joseph was a young man when he took Mary to be his wife. He was likely between 20 and 40 years of age.* This is much younger than our artwork often depicts him. Despite his youthfulness, Joseph maintained chastity with Mary. The Old Testament permitted vows such as celibacy within a marriage so this was not unusual (Numbers 30: 13-15). St. Joseph is often portrayed holding a lily to represent his purity. Ask St. Joseph for help to live a life of purity of soul and body.
“How Old was St. Joseph” by Dr. Brant Pitre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgrmS36HFYc
“The Genealogies of Mathew and Luke” by Dr. Brant Pitre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtTD8cSwB0o
*Not settled in Scripture or Church doctrine but coming from theological scholars and could be useful for our reflection.