Feast of Saint Joseph

The little that is mentioned in the Gospels about the life of Joseph does reveal the nature of the man chosen by God as the earthly father of Jesus.

We know that he was of royal lineage, since he was a member of the House of David (Mt 1:1-16). We know that he was a carpenter because Jesus was referred to as “the carpenter’s son” (Mt 13:55). We know that he was not a wealthy man, since his offering in the temple at the time of Mary’s purification and Jesus’ circumcision was turtledoves or pigeons, which was the acceptable offering only for those who could not afford a lamb.

His obedience to God is clearly visible – in taking Mary as his wife (Mt 1: 19-25) , in naming his son Jesus, in fleeing to Egypt in the middle of the night in order to safeguard Mary and Jesus, and in returning his precious family to Nazareth when the danger to them had passed (Mt 2: 13-23). His respect for God is evidenced by his following of the Law – bringing Jesus for circumcision and presentation in the temple, bringing Mary for ritual purification following the birth of Jesus, making offerings in the temple and bringing his family to Jerusalem for Passover.

We see his compassion in how, upon learning of her expected child, he planned to quietly dismiss Mary so that she would not be publicly disgraced.  His love for Jesus is clear in his concern for Jesus’ safety and the flight to Egypt in order to protect Jesus’ life. When Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary spent three days searching for him. The Gospel says that, following this, Jesus “went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.” (Luke 2:51-2)

After the return of the Holy Family to Nazareth, Joseph is not mentioned by name, although the account of Jesus in the temple includes a reference to “his parents” (Lk 3:43). The circumstances of his death are not known.

Saint Joseph was named the patron saint of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870.