ST. JOSEPH HUSBAND OF MARY

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo of Seville, Spain - St. Joseph and the Holy Family in his Carpenter Shop with John the Baptist, Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest, Hungary, 1658.


"Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the holy Spirit.
And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
Gospel of Matthew 1:18-25

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea,
unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and lineage of David:
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,
and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Gospel of Luke 2:1-7


St. Joseph of the House of David was the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus the Christ. God entrusted his two greatest treasures, Jesus and Mary, to the care and protection of St. Joseph. St. Joseph was the foster-father of Jesus and along with the Virgin Mary spent the most earthly hours with Jesus during his childhood. The most reliable information on St. Joseph is from the Infancy Narratives of the Gospels of Saints Matthew and Luke.

Joseph was betrothed to Mary, but before they came together, she was with child by the Holy Spirit. Being a "just man" and unwilling to put her to shame, he planned to send her away quietly. But he was warned in a dream by an angel of the Lord: "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:18-21).

While his family was originally from Bethlehem, St. Joseph settled in Nazareth where he was a carpenter by trade (Matthew 13:55). He took Mary his espoused wife from Nazareth to Bethlehem for a census where she delivered the baby Jesus. Following the birth of Jesus and the visit of the Magi, Joseph was again warned in a dream by an angel of the Lord to escape the wrath of Herod; he took the Holy Family on the Flight to Egypt. They stayed there until the death of Herod, when Joseph was again directed in a dream by an angel of the Lord to leave Egypt, avoid Judea, and return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23).

When Jesus was twelve years old, his parents took him to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and, after missing him for three days, they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers. Mary was astonished and said to him, "Your father and I have been looking for you." Jesus answered, "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. He was obedient to them and returned to Nazareth. "And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man" (Luke 2:48-52).

Joseph is referenced in relation to Jesus in John 1:45, when Philip found Nathanael and told him: "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the Law, and also the prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." He is also referenced in John 6:42 in relation to Jesus: "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?"

The Gospel of Mark does not mention Joseph by name, but provides two important clues about Jesus. First, that Jesus is from Nazareth of Galilee (Mark 1:9), and that Jesus followed in Joseph's footsteps and became a carpenter: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses (Joseph) and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" (Mark 6:3). The terms brother and sister in Hebrew or Aramaic at that time could mean either biological sibling, cousin or kinsman, or a spiritual brother or sister. Now if James, Joses and Judas and Simon were also natural sons of Mary, Jesus would not have been called the "son of Mary," but rather "one of the sons of Mary." Mary of Clopas, the mother of the younger James and Joses (Mark 15:40) and the sister of the mother of Jesus (John 19:25), was the likely mother of the "brothers and sisters of Jesus" (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, Luke 24:10).

How old was St. Joseph? It is believed that Joseph died before the Public Ministry of Jesus, for, unlike Mary, he became noticeably absent in Scripture, such as family occasions like the Wedding Feast of Cana, or during the Passion of Our Lord. Historic paintings, such as Tondodoni by Michelangelo and The Holy Family by Raphael, imply Joseph was a considerably older man. Apocryphal tradition, such as the second-century Syriac Protoevangelium of James or the fifth-century Coptic History of Joseph the Carpenter suggested that Joseph was a widower, and his children by his former wife were the "brothers and sisters of Jesus." On the other hand, Joseph had to be young enough in order to practice carpentry and train Jesus in his trade, and energetic enough to take the Holy Family on the Flight to Egypt!

Jesus was obedient to Joseph, his Guardian on earth (Luke 2:51). Does not Jesus Christ in Heaven also listen to any request that St. Joseph makes of Him? For that reason, St. Joseph is valued as a Patron Saint for many causes. It has been claimed by many, such as St. Teresa of Avila and the Carmelites, that prayers of petition to St. Joseph to intercede with Our Lord have been answered.

The Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, is our best example of a loving family. Saint Joseph is the Patron Saint of Marriage. Joseph listened to the angel and accepted his divine mission by taking Mary as his wife and becoming the foster-father of Jesus. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, in The World's First Love, noted in a Chapter entitled "The World's Happiest Marriage," that "no husband or wife ever loved each other as much as Joseph and Mary," for they had a pure union of heart. And they lived in the presence of love itself, Jesus Christ! And the Blessed Virgin Mary serves as our model of love and mercy, who intercedes with her Son Jesus for us, her children on earth.

St. Joseph is known throughout the ages as a model of fatherhood and is the Patron Saint of Fathers. His feast-day is March 19 on the liturgical calendar. As he earned his living with his hands, St. Joseph the Worker is also celebrated on May 1. On December 8,1870, Pope Pius IX named him the Patron Saint of the Universal Church and a number of churches, religious homes, hospitals and schools throughout the world are named after him. He is the Patron Saint of carpenters and home sales, as well as many nations (Austria, Belgium, Canada, Peru, Vietnam) and cities (San José).

St. Joseph is known as the Patron Saint for a Happy Death, since it is believed that he had the privilege of dying in the loving presence of Jesus and Mary. The following Prayer to St. Joseph for a Happy Death is from the Oblates of St. Joseph Seminary in Pittston, Pennsylvania:


O Glorious St. Joseph, I choose you today for my special patron in life and at the hour of my death. Preserve and increase in me the spirit of prayer and fervor in the service of God. Remove far from me every kind of sin; obtain for me that my death may not come upon me unawares, but that I may have time to confess my sins sacramentally and to bewail them with a most perfect understanding and a most sincere and perfect contrition, in order that I may breathe forth my soul into the hands of Jesus and Mary. Amen.



Bartolomé Esteban Murillo of Seville, Spain - St. Joseph and the Christ Child, Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida, 1670.



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