Beside the Holm Oak Tree

St. Joseph

St. Joseph is first mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew who give a list of genealogy descended down from David,  Mt 1:16 Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.

We can conclude that Bethlehem, the city of David was Joseph’s birthplace.

Mt. 1:18-19 tells us: before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

Betrothed to Mary: its meaning at that time was a consent to marriage or promised. It usually lasted about a year while preparations were made for their home together. It is more than an engagement, they were considered to be husband and wife though not living together or consummating their marriage.  Any infidelity at this point was regarded as adultery.

Following the betrothal, the actual move of the woman into the home along with a great feast completed the marriage.

The Gospel of Matthew contains five instances of someone following a dream.  Four involved St. Joseph with the fifth being the visit of the Magi.

Dream 1

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. Mt 1: 20

This is Joseph’s vocation and mission. He was to become the protector and guardian of the Holy Family.

Dream 2

Mt 2:13 When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.

Joseph did not question or hesitate the message of the angel.  He prepared his family to leave immediately.

Dream 3

Mt 2:19-21 When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”  He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.

This fulfilled the prophecy,  out of Egypt, I have called my son Mt 2:15

Joseph worked and supported his family in Egypt until it was revealed to him to return.  His only will was to follow the Will of God.

Dream 4

Mt 2: 22-23 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.

He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean.”

Joseph did not return to the city of his birth but to Galilee, particularly the town of Nazareth, trusting completely in the message in a dream.

Joseph is described as a “just man”, chosen by God to be foster father of Jesus and spouse of the Virgin Mary.  His faithfulness, leads him to follow the angel’s instructions immediately, with total trust and obedience.

The need of a human father was for protection, affection and instruction. The events are not recorded but it can be assumed Jesus learned form his parents the normal things of life that He used as examples in many of his parables and teachings. He was obedient to them as his mother and father.

By the time Jesus began His public ministry, Joseph is not mentioned so it is assumed he has passed away by this time.  (Wedding Feast at Cana)

Joseph is not mentioned in Gospel of Luke until Chapter 2:4 when he and Mary had traveled to Bethlehem and Mary was about to give birth.  It describes the nativity of Jesus and the shepherds who find Mary and Joseph with the infant in a manger.

Luke 2:21:  the circumcision where he is named Jesus, the name given him by the angel to Joseph

2:22-38 Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple for the presentation

Prophecy of Simeon and Anna

2:39  they return to Nazareth.

2:41  Jesus is 12 years old, left behind at Jerusalem

2:51 “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart”  Jesus was obedient to Joseph as his father.

Jesus grew up living in Nazareth where he is described as working as a carpenter. The Greek word for carpenter does not appear anywhere else in the NT, it may imply a builder of any hard material such as stone or metal since wood is scarce in Israel.

Patronages of St. Joseph

Model disciple dedicating his life to the interests of Jesus

Patron of the Church, as Joseph protected the physical body of Jesus on earth, so does he continue to protect through his intercessory prayer the mystical body of Christ, the Church.  Mary-mother of the Church, Joseph-protector of the Church

Patron of Husbands and the Engaged Jospeh exhibits deepest love for his betrothed and his wife. He gives himself to Mary according to God’s plan

Patron of Fathers:  Model of self-sacrificing concern to protect and raise Jesus.

Patron of Family Life: Model of unity, love and shared faith,  priority of family life over self interest

Protector of the Unborn and of Pregnant Mothers:  He recognized the baby in Mary’s womb and the incarnate god and made any sacrifice to care fo that life.

Model of Workers: teaches his profession to Jesus.  Example of the dignity of work

Patron of the Marginalized, Emigrants, Refugees and those Discriminated Against: Joseph experienced all of these hardships in the perception by Herod and the attitude of Judean towards people from Galilee.  Dignity does not come from the world but form being true to God’s calling

Model of Humility, the Hidden Life and the Sanctification of the Ordinary.  Joseph has no great words or deeds.  Most of his life with Jesus is “hidden”. Holiness comes from being faithful to the ordinary, family, work, faith, normal state of life of God’s revelation.

10.Model of Contemplative Union with Christ: Joseph was totally open to God’s will.  “Saint of Silence” because no words of his have been preserved.  Model of the interior life and contemplative prayer.

11. Patron of Apostles: His attitudes and virtues can help us bring Christ to others

12. Patron of a Happy Death: No mention of Joseph during Jesus’ public ministry. His death signifies a quiet fulfillment of his role.  His death in the arms of Jesus and Mary should be the desire of all Christians for their own deaths.

Patronages of St. Joseph from:

St. Teresa of Avila had a great devotion to St. Joseph.

I took for my advocate and lord the glorious Saint Joseph and commended myself earnestly to him; and I found that this my father and lord delivered me both from this trouble and also from other and greater troubles concerning my honor and the loss of my soul, and that he gave me greater blessings than I could ask of him. I do not remember even now that I have ever asked anything of him which he has failed to grant. I am astonished at the great favors which God has bestowed on me through this blessed saint, and at the perils from which He has freed me, both in body and in soul. To other saints the Lord seems to have given grace to succor us in some of our necessities but of this glorious saint my experience is that he succors us in them all and that the Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to him on earth (for, being His guardian and being called His father, he could command Him) just so in Heaven He still does all that he asks. This has also been the experience of other persons whom I have advised to commend themselves to him; and even to-day there are many who have great devotion to him through having newly experienced this truth.” “I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to this glorious saint, for I have great experience of the blessings which he can obtain from God. I have never known anyone to be truly devoted to him and render him particular services who did not notably advance in virtue, for he gives very real help to souls who commend themselves to him. For some years now, I think, I have made some request of him every year on his festival and I have always had it granted. If my petition is in any way ill directed, he directs it aright for my greater good.”

“I only beg, for the love of God, that anyone who does not believe me will put what I say to the test, and he will see by experience what great advantages come from his commending himself to this glorious patriarch and having devotion to him. Those who practice prayer should have a special affection for him always. I do not know how anyone can think of the Queen of the Angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the Child Jesus, without giving thanks to Saint Joseph for the way he helped them. If anyone cannot find a master to teach him how to pray, let him take this glorious saint as his master and he will not go astray.” (Autobiography Chapter 6).

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