Look to St. Joseph
May 07, 2015
Filed In: Faith
One of the traditions in my line of Collins men is that each of us share the same middle name, Joseph. It's a tradition that started at least six generations ago, although I'm sure that the further I dig, the more Josephs I'll find. I'm not sure of the particular reasons as to why it was started, but I'm confident it was meant as a prayer for the intercession of St. Joseph. Joseph is a strong and silent character in the Bible, and the more we know about life in Nazareth in his day, the more we grow to respect him.
While Joseph has no recorded words in the Bible, his actions speak to us quite loudly. We know that he was an honorable man, being described in Matthew as a "just" man, a description ascribed only to the greatest figures in Scripture. We also know that, when he discovered that Mary was pregnant, he was, "unwilling to expose her to shame," despite the fact that the law allowed him to take some serious courses of action. We know that, being chosen to be the foster father of Jesus, he must have been a very holy person, deemed worthy of marrying the perfect creature, Mary. We can know with certitude the depth of his faith because he was attuned enough to God to receive not one, but two messages from angels and respond to them in obedience without question. His response was commensurate with Mary's, and unlike the doubt expressed by Zachariah.
Joseph was a great husband. He traveled hundreds of miles with his very pregnant wife to Bethlehem in order to comply with the census. Any man who's even gone for short walks with a pregnant wife can easily imagine what a trying journey that must have been. Further, after experiencing the miracle of the birth of Jesus, and the mysterious events surrounding it, Joseph took his family to safety in Egypt. It wasn't just the journey that was difficult, but also living as an alien in a foreign land, having to set up a home, gain employment, and continue to provide for his growing family. Scripture is vague about many of the pragmatic realities surrounding the life of Joseph, but context clues and historical knowledge point to a very difficult life in Egypt, away from friends, family, and a land that he knew.
Finally, we know that Joseph was a great father. He taught Jesus his skill. He raised Jesus as his own. He tenderly and lovingly cared for his family. He treated Jesus as his own child, instilling in Him the customs and traditions of Judaism.
Not a single word spoken, and yet we can know all of these things about the great St. Joseph. The Church holds Joseph up as a model of virtue, holiness, purity, and as the type of husband and father all men should strive to be. Through his intercession, may we be St. Joseph to our own wife and family.