FOSTER-FATHER OF JESUS


feast day March 19 

Saint Joseph, you were privileged to share in the mystery of the Incarnation as the foster-father of Jesus. Mary alone was directly connected with the fulfillment of the mystery, in that she gave her consent to Christ's conception and allowed the Holy Spirit to form the sacred humanity of Jesus from her blood. You had a part in this mystery in an indirect manner, by fulfilling the condition necessary for the Incarnation -- the protection of Mary's virginity before and during your married life with her. You made the virginal marriage possible, and this was a part of God's plan, foreseen, willed, and decreed from all eternity.

In a more direct manner you shared in the support, upbringing, and protection of the Divine Child as His foster-father. For this purpose the Heavenly Father gave you a genuine heart of a father -- a heart full of love and self-sacrifice. With the toil of your hands you were obliged to offer protection to the Divine Child, to procure for Him food, clothing, and a home. You were truly the saint of the holy childhood of Jesus -- the living created providence which watched over the Christ-Child.

When Herod sought the Child to put Him to death, the Heavenly Father sent an angel but only as a messenger, giving orders for the flight; the rest He left entirely in your hands. It was that fatherly love which was the only refuge that received and protected the Divine Child. Your fatherly love carried Him through the desert into Egypt until all enemies were removed. Then on your arms the Child returned to Nazareth to be nourished and provided for during many years by the labor of your hands. Whatever a human son owes to a human father for all the benefits of his up-bringing and support, Jesus owed to you, because you were to Him a foster-father, teacher, and protector.

You served the Divine Child with a singular love. God gave you a heart filled with heavenly, supernatural love -- a love far deeper and more powerful than any natural father's love could be.

You served the Divine Child with great unselfishness, without any regard to self-interest, but not without sacrifices. You did not toil for yourself, but you seemed to be an instrument intended for the benefit of others, to be put aside as soon as it had done its word, for you disappeared from the scene once the childhood of Jesus had passed.

You were the shadow of the Heavenly Father not only as the earthly representative of the authority of the Father, but also by means of your fatherhood -- which only appeared to be natural -- you were to hide for a while the divinity of Jesus. What a wonderfully sublime and divine vocation was yours -- the loving Child which you carried in your arms, and loved and served so faithfully, had God in Heaven as Father and was Himself God!

Yours is a very special rank among the saints of the Kingdom of God, because you were so much a part of the very life of the Word of God made Man. In your house at Nazareth and under your care the redemption of mankind was prepared. What you accomplished, you did for us. You are not only a powerful and great saint in the Kingdom of God, but a benefactor of the whole of Christendom and mankind. Your rank in the Kingdom of God, surpassing far in dignity and honor of all the angels, deserves our very special veneration, love, and gratitude.

Saint Joseph, I thank God for your privilege of having been chosen by God to be the foster-father of His Divine Son. As a token of your own gratitude to God for this your greatest privilege, obtain for me the grace of a very devoted love for Jesus Christ, my God and my Savior. Help me to serve Him with some of the self-sacrificing love and devotion which you had while on this earth with Him. Grant that through your intercession with Jesus, your foster-Son, I may reach the degree of holiness God has destined for me, and save my soul.

St. Joseph's Virtues 

Words of Our Lady to St. Bridget of Sweden 

"St. Joseph was so reserved and careful in his speech that not one word ever issued from his mouth that was not good and holy, nor did he ever indulge in unnecessary or less than charitable conversation. He was most patient and diligent in bearing fatigue; he practiced extreme poverty; he was most meek in bearing injuries; he was strong and constant against my enemies; he was the faithful witness of the wonders of Heaven, being dead to the flesh and the world, living only for God and for Heavenly goods, which were the only things he desired. He was perfectly conformed to the Divine Will and so resigned to the dispositions of Heaven that he ever repeated" May the Will of God ever be done in me!" He rarely spoke with men, but continually with God, whose Will he desired to perform. Wherefore, he now enjoys great glory in Heaven."

First appearing in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, St. Joseph was the earthly father of Jesus Christ and the husband of the Virgin Mary.
IN THESE GROUPS

Venerated as a saint in many Christian sects, St. Joseph is a biblical figure who is believed to have been the corporeal father of Jesus Christ. Joseph first appears in the Bible in the gospels of Matthew and Luke; in Matthew, Joseph's lineage is traced back to King David. According to the Bible, Joseph was born circa 100 B.C.E. and later wed the Virgin Mary, Jesus's mother. He died in Israel circa 1 A.D.

Fact and Fiction

Everything we know about St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus, comes from the Bible, and mentions of him are underwhelming. The 13 New Testament books written by Paul (the epistles) make no reference to him at all, nor does the Gospel of Mark, the first of the Gospels. Joseph first appears in the Bible in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, one of which (Matthew) traces Joseph's lineage back to King David.

To add to the problem of not knowing enough about Joseph, some apocryphal writings—such as the second-century Protevangelium of James and the fourth-century History of Joseph the Carpenter—muddy the historical waters further, presenting him as a widower with children when he met Mary and claiming that he lived to the age of 111. These claims, however, are spurious and are not accepted by the church.

Marriage to Mary

After marrying Mary, Joseph found that she was already pregnant, and being "a just man and unwilling to put her to shame" (Matt. 1:19), he decided to divorce her quietly, knowing that if he did so publicly, she could be stoned to death. An angel, however, came to Joseph and told him that the child Mary carried was the son of God and was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so Joseph kept Mary as his wife.

After Jesus's birth in Bethlehem, an angel came to Joseph again, this time to warn him and Mary about King Herod of Judaea and the violence he would bring down upon the child. Joseph then fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus, and the angel appeared again, telling Joseph that Herod had died and instructing him to return to the Holy Land.

Avoiding Bethlehem and possible actions by Herod's successor, Joseph, Mary and Jesus settled in Nazareth, in Galilee. The Gospels describe Joseph as a "tekton," which traditionally has meant "carpenter," and it is assumed that Joseph taught his craft to Jesus in Nazareth. At this point, however, Joseph is never mentioned again by name in the Bible—although the story of Jesus in the temple includes a reference to "both his parents."

Death and Sainthood

The circumstances of Joseph's death are not known, but it is likely that he died before Jesus's ministry began, and it is implied that he was dead before the Crucifixion (John 19:26-27). Already a patron saint of Mexico, Canada and Belgium, in 1870, Joseph was declared patron of the universal church by Pope Pius IX, and in 1955 Pope Pius XII established May 1 as the "Feast of St. Joseph the Worker" to counter the Communists' May Day.

The Body and Tomb of St. Joseph 

"In an ecstasy, a Saint has seen the body of St. Joseph preserved intact in a tomb, the site of which is yet unknown. The more the glorious spouse of the most Blessed Virgin is honored, the sooner will the finding of his body take place, which will be a day of great joy for the Church." (Words of Father Paul of Moll, 1824-1896, from Father Paul of Moll, by Edward van Speybrouck, p.238).

An ancient tradition states that the tomb of St. Joseph, now empty, is in the Valley of Josaphat. St. Jerome, on the other hand, was of the opinion that St. Joseph's tomb is within the boundaries of the Garden of Gethsemane. (See Life and Glories of St. Joseph by Edward Healy Thompson, pp.409-410)

photo:Joseph with the Child and the Flowering Rod, Alonso Miguel de Tovar

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