"JOSEPH" The Protector of the Holy Family
He is the "Terror of Demons" and the "Guardian of Virgins". He is Saint Joseph, the most chaste spouse of Virgin Mary and the father of Jesus. ‘Yosef' is the Hebrew name for Joseph, meaning, "He will add or increase''.
Today is the feast of Saint Joseph, March 19. As a Catholic, I did not know much about him until Pope Francis declared the Year of Saint Joseph back in December 2020. From the bible, we know that he was a descendant of King David and a son of Jacob (Mt 1:16). This is in fulfillment of God’s promise to David (2 Samuel 7:12-13). We know that Saint Joseph is a carpenter, and we can imagine that this is how he provides for their household. Not much is written in the Bible about St. Joseph, but if we think about the hidden life of Jesus, it reveals a lot about St. Joseph. Father Donald Calloway published the book "The Consecration of Saint Joseph" in the year 2020, which provides us with a better understanding of St. Joseph's role in our salvation history.
Compared to our devotion to our Blessed Mother, few of us discover the real beauty of Saint Joseph, and the virtues he had.
In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared Saint Joseph the Patron Saint of the Catholic Church (no other saint has been declared as such). His Holiness Pope Francis declared that the year 2021 would be the Year of Saint Joseph. The Holy Spirit leads the Pope in his declaration to come to Saint Joseph for his intercession. "Ite Ad Joseph". We need Saint Joseph in our lives. Our churches today need to be protected from the wickedness of the world. Our family needs to be defended against the evil that lurks around and attempts to distort God's plan for the family. We must safeguard and strengthen our family's foundation, rooted in Christ. In the noise of materialism, egotism, and ideology, our world needs the humility of Saint Joseph. In his silence, there is trust in the Lord. In his silence, there is humble work that glorifies the Lord.Our world needs men and women of today with the virtues and purity of heart. On the feast of Saint Joseph, fathers and husbands are also invited to embrace fatherhood — to lead their families closer to God. We must have virtues such as Saint Joseph that we may hear the voice of God in our lives... a voice that will direct us to love and protect our family, the Church, and to live a righteous life pleasing to God.
Virtues and qualities we might learn from Saint Joseph
Humble and obedient
"But many who are first will be last; and the last, first." (Mark 19:30). Being humble in the sight of God will be the greatest in His Kingdom. Indeed, there are many humble accounts of prophets and saints in the Bible in which God blesses them abundantly, and one of them is Saint Joseph. Even though we have heard less about him in the Bible, his humility and meekness intrigue me in the way he acts and treats Mary, Jesus, and even their neighbors at that time. Was he quiet and shy? Or just strict? Well, no details are recorded in the Bible. But there was a moment when the angel showed up to Saint Joseph in his dream and told him to accept Mary as his wife, which he did. He obeys and acts by following God's command with a humble heart. St. Joseph's big yes was part of God's plan for humanity... our salvation. God's way is better than our ways. We must therefore listen and obey His word always.
Provider, Priest, and a Father
As a parent, I wonder how Saint Joseph disciplined Jesus and instructed him as an ordinary human being. Imagine Joseph teaching Jesus in woodwork, family traditions, and their faith. Saint Joseph was a great provider of his family also by doing carpentry work daily as the source of their income. I believe he was a hard-working person and no wonder he's the patron Saint of workers. He might not be the biological father of Jesus, but still, God entrusted His Son to him to be his earthly father. As a result, Joseph loved and led Jesus as He grew into adulthood. Jesus lifted His eyes to Saint Joseph as a perfect model and no surprise Jesus resembled the fatherhood and priestly dimension of Saint Joseph. This is our inspiration to teach our son to pray every day. Each day we have our morning/evening family prayers and our devotion to the divine mercy prayer (3 o'clock prayer). We have our 9-day Novena to St. Joseph too before his feast. We teach him how to do his homework as well while we are reminded to do our job diligently as providers in our family. We also share with our son as much as possible the family virtues and the gospel of Jesus to show him the beauty of being a Christ-centered family.
A Righteous man
Saint Joseph is a righteous man (Matt 1:19), he lives his ordinary life in faith, hope, and love. Indeed, he was a pious, and loving husband of Mary. When he learned of Mary's pregnancy, he decided to divorce Mary quietly instead of scandalizing her (As Mary might face stoning to death through the notion that she committed adultery). Another quality of St. Joseph with whom we must follow is the way of observing our civil law. For instance, when King Herod announced that all the Hebrews would have to register their household, the entire family did. As ordinary citizens of the state, we should also uphold our laws on earth. Jesus told us to do likewise. After being asked by the Pharisees, Jesus told Peter to give Caesar what is due to him and God what is due to God (Mark 12:17). A single act of Jesus reflects how he was nourished by his father.
As fathers, we must safeguard our families and save them from evil. I think many of us will. Isn't it? The protector is one such title of St. Joseph. It is the nature of St. Joseph to care for and love Mary and Jesus. We, Husbands, are reminded to love and protect our wives and not to confront them in front of so many people when an argument comes up. Or a simple gesture for public embarrassment. Perhaps private discussion can be the most efficient means. We also guard our children against bullying and all other sorts of intimidation. The Lord has chosen Saint Joseph to show us that he cares and protects the people he loves. Now we are in the dark, a battle between right and wrong. We faced oppression, trials of life, distortion and destruction of the family, and even mocking our church. Like Saint Joseph, we need to imitate his actions to protect our home, our society, and the Mother Church.
A chaste spouse
I prayed each day that I would be pure like Saint Joseph. Not because I am unfaithful to my wife, but to be pure in all my actions and thoughts too. We cannot love like Jesus did if we have an unclean heart. It is not authentic, it expects something in return. Not sacrificial. Likewise, it is boastful. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt 5:3-12). Saint Joseph's heart is filled with true love. To live pure like Mary and Joseph is to see the image of God "Imago Dei” and that image will remind us that we are made in His image and likeness. We are loved by God.
Our devotion to Saint Joseph will increase our faith and love for Christ. We need to be consistent and faithful to our prayers. I am inspired by his virtues and holiness. He might not be perfect nor spotless as Mary, but God chose him as his representative on earth to be the father of Jesus for God sees the purity of his heart. God has favoured those who hear Him, those who are simple, pure, loving, and true. Let us continue to ask Saint Joseph's intercession to give us a pure heart like his so we may experience the love of Christ daily and to be with Him in the fullness of time. Saint Joseph our spiritual father, Pray for us.