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March 19th - Solemnity of St Joseph

St Joseph

  • Feast: March 19th
  • Life: Unknown (died before Jesus' public ministry)
  • Patron: The Universal Church, Workers, Happy Death
  • Associations: Lily, Tools, Holy Family

On the Feast of St. Joseph the readings the Church provides us with are readings of royalty. It seems strange to hear readings about royalty when we reflect on the life of St. Joseph because it almost seems as if he lived life to the opposite effect. We know that he was a simple man. He was a carpenter. What we often fail to realize is that out of all of history, God chose this man to be His foster father. While this man did not have riches, what he did have was worth so much more.

We hear from the Annunciation story to Joseph that even before the Angel appeared to him, he knew that Mary was pregnant. He knew that he wasn't the father, so it says that "because he was a just man..." In all of scriptures, you do not hear many people called "just." He was also obedient to the message of the Angel. Not only would He become the foster father of God, but he would also need to be the protector and first teacher.

We hear that Joseph's family line could be traced back to King David. David was the most well-known of all of the Biblical kings. While he had some problems, he is known as being a rather benevolent king. Unfortunately for our story, many others during the time of St. Joseph could also point their lineage back to David. Joseph wasn't sitting on a throne. Perhaps the closest he ever got to a throne was by making one as a carpenter. Because we know the end of the story, we also know that Jesus was not a king in the traditional sense either.

The royalty we know about during Joseph's time was not something Joseph wanted to emulate. The first king we hear about is King Herod. Like most royalty at the time, he was afraid of losing his power. Because of this, he does the unimaginable and has all of the young first born sons in the town of Bethlehem killed. It was predestined that the Christ should be born there. The other big ruler we hear about early in the Gospels is Caesar. Israel was under Roman occupation, so it was natural that Caesar would be mentioned at some point. We also know that Caesar was someone who always looked behind his back. While he spent a lot of time looking how to expand his empire, he was also always looking behind his back for a usurper. He was afraid of losing his power. To him, the only thing that mattered was power.

If God wanted to be born into royalty, he would be been the son of Caesar or Herod, but he was not. He was the son of Joseph. Joseph was the first teacher of the faith. He was a righteous Jew who taught Jesus the precepts of the Jewish faith. They observed the feast days as well as the Sabbath customs. Joseph taught Jesus what it means to live a virtuous life. We hear that Joseph is a protector, a just man, a compassionate man, a patient man, and an honest man. These traits were passed down to Jesus for sure as he taught Jesus the tools of his trade and how to be a man. While Caesar and Herod may have had power, very few actually loved them unconditionally. Joseph taught Jesus the meaning of loving unconditionally, and in return, others would love Him unconditionally. While many of the words and actions of Jesus were inspired by the Holy Spirit, we also need to realize that many of them must have come from His first teacher, St. Joseph.

On this feast of St Joseph, may we ask the first teacher of Jesus to inspire us through the words and actions of his foster Son. May we too be inspired to imitate the heroic virtues of St. Joseph.