By MitchellHe's one of the more enigmatic figures in the New Testament, Joseph the carpenter. He only appears in a few passages in the Gospels. We never hear him saying anything; he is never directly quoted by any of the writers. And once the Child Jesus is found preaching in the Temple, he disappears entirely, never to be mentioned again. We don’t know when he died, how long he lived, even how old he was when he married Mary (tradition usually depicts him as an old man; but Bishop Sheen, among others, hypothesized that God would only have entrusted to a young man the kinds of physical activities necessary to protect the Child and His Mother.) Some speculate that he was a widower with children, while others believe he may, like Mary, have been a consecrated virgin.
And yet, for a man about whom we know very little, he accomplished a great deal. God did entrust to this man the care and protection of Jesus and Mary. He didn’t exactly make it easy for Joseph, either – no suburban home with a white picket fence for this young family. Despite it all, the challenges and the hardships and the things that just didn’t make sense, Joseph’s answer was always yes. What makes him all the more appealing is that, like Abraham, he had to overcome his own doubts and uncertainties. Like Abraham, he chose to overcome them with faith.
An angel appears to him in a dream. Not once, but several times. As if this was a common occurrence, happening to everyone all the time. We might be willing to pass it off, as Scrooge did, to a piece of undercooked food (or something else we’d done the night before). We might wonder if we were feeling an expression of our subconscious desires. We might simply imagine we’d made it all up.
Joseph listened, and he acted. God indeed knew His man.
Over the centuries many have been touched by St. Joseph, by his wisdom, guidance and leadership, given freely to the brothers and sisters of Jesus. As patron of home sellers, we are twice witnesses to his intervention on our behalf. AdoroTeDevote provides an excellent, much more personal commentary on the impact of Joseph in her life – an account well worth reading.
St. Joseph’s feast day almost always falls during Lent, and as is the case with all such feasts we’re released from any penitential Lenten practices we might have been observing. (Likewise this Saturday, the Feast of the Annunciation – although St. Patrick’s Day is a little bit iffier.)
So if you have that piece of chocolate today, or that drink, or whatever else it is that you might have given up for Lent, take a moment to remember the man whose feast we celebrate today; this humble man, the carpenter who became Patron of the Church, Spouse of the Blessed Mother, Guardian of the Redeemer, bearer of the lineage of Christ, father of the Son of God, and friend and helper of us all. May his prayers help this wicked generation say yes to God as he did.