Because of his service to Jesus and Mary at home in Nazareth, Saint Joseph is honoured as Protector of the Church. Little is known for sure about Joseph, apart from his name and a couple of events during the childhood of Jesus. The Gospel does not record a single one of his words; in fact, he is sometimes referred to as the silent saint. But maybe his silence was his greatest asset and quality. It portrayed him as a listening and understanding person.
He listened carefully to God, and although he might not have understood fully what God’s will was for him, he faithfully obeyed and did as he was told.
He listened to the quiet voice which spoke to him in his sleep and generously obeyed in what was asked of him. He provided for his family with manual labour, so that Jesus was later known as the son of the carpenter. St Joseph was very much in the background, away from the limelight. But that humble man was so near to Jesus and Mary, intimately connected with their life and providing them with security.
The Just Man
The Gospel calls Joseph a just man. He was a poor, honest, hard-working, perhaps even a shy man, but one of deep interior life, giving him the freedom to put himself at the disposal of God’s plan for the childhood of Jesus. Joseph accepted the responsibility and the burden of family life, while renouncing the consolation of natural conjugal love because of his extraordinary vocation.
Pope Paul VI said in 1969:
St Joseph offered the whole of his existence in a total sacrifice to the demands raised by the extraordinary coming of the Messiah, whom he acknowledged as the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and as his own son only in a juridical and domestic way. Joseph was a fully committed man, as we might say nowadays. And what commitment! Total commitment to Mary, the elect of all the women of the earth and of history, always his virgin spouse, never his wife physically, and total commitment to Jesus, who was his offspring only by legal descent, not by the flesh. He bore burdens, risks and responsibilities of caring for the Holy Family. He carried out the service, work and sacrifice that Christians so admire in him; and that makes him such a fine patron for family life.
St Joseph is not just a model for fathers. He is a model of faith and love for all Christians who want to do God’s will and walk in the ways of the Lord.
A Hidden Life
Learn more about St Joseph’s life from this seven-minute video.