One of our Sisters sent the following reflection to the catechists who serve in the parish program that she directs. I wanted to share it with you on this wonderful solemnity of St. Joseph, spouse of Mary:
This week we celebrate the feast of one of the greatest saints…though we do not always think of him as such because of the mystery and quiet which surrounds his mission. St. Joseph, foster-father of Jesus, also named Shadow of the Father. I once heard a talk about St. Joseph in which it was said that Jesus learned all of the human characteristics of being a man from St. Joseph. He learned to be strong but gentle; He learned to pray; He learned to work hard; He learned to care for the poor; He learned to respect others; He learned to honor His Mother Mary and to show a particular respect to women in a way that would surprise His disciples later in His life.
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke present Joseph as the gentle, but strong, protector of Mary, the Mother of God. When Matthew traces Jesus’ human ancestry, Joseph’s family is named (1:16) emphasizing his relationship to the House of David. Joseph was chosen from all men to be Jesus’ foster father and help Mary raise the child Jesus. Joseph accepted this responsibility without questioning God, after he was told by an angel in a dream to wed Mary. (See Matthew 1: 18-25)
Joseph was with Mary when Jesus was born, and at the Presentation in the Temple. He hears the prophecy of Simeon regarding the sufferings to be endured by Mary and her child. (Luke 2:21-35) Joseph guards and protects his family in Egypt during the years of King Herod, until he can safely take his family back to Nazareth. (Pope Benedict says that Joseph's consolation was that he was able to be in the presence of Christ!) (Matthew 2:13-23) When Jesus is lost in Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary look for him together and then take Jesus back to Nazareth. This is the last Scripture reference to Joseph, although Jesus is often called the “carpenter’s son.” It is thought that Joseph died before Jesus began his public ministry.
Devotion to St. Joseph grew and was given world-wide recognition in 1870 when Pope Pius IX proclaimed Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church. Since then he has been named the patron of many different groups and countries. He has two feast days, March 19, as Joseph the Husband of Mary, and May 1, for Joseph the Worker. St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers of families.