Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for March 19, 2006

This post is a tad late, unfortunately, for Sunday or the Feast of St. Joseph, but it's here nevertheless.

Today, March 19, is usually the Solemnity (Solemn Feast) of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, and patron of the Universal Church. Since, however, today is a Sunday, St. Joseph’s feast-day is transferred to Monday, March 20, this year. Among all the saints in the whole calendar, aside from the Blessed Virgin Mary, none has been as close to our Blessed Lord as St. Joseph. Joseph is mentioned only a few times in the Gospels, but these brief glimpses into his life provide us with much fruit for meditation, particularly as we near the middle of Lent.

We know, among other details of St. Joseph’s life, that he was from Bethlehem, a descendent of King David (Mt 1:1-16; 20) and that he was a skilled laborer, which tradition has interpreted as a carpenter (Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3). The Scriptures are silent as whether Joseph was a young or old man at the time of his marriage to Mary, although much of traditional art depicts an elderly Joseph. Nevertheless, he and Mary were truly married; and although the marriage was never consummated, this purely virginal marriage did not lack any grace or happiness.

St. Matthew’s Gospel describes Joseph as “a just man,” but troubled by the undeniable fact that Mary was with child. His faith in God – and trust in Mary – is manifest in the very next scene when he believed the angel’s message, and “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Mt 1:24). Truly, although God’s ways are not our ways, Joseph’s fidelity accompanied Mary, even when there was no room for them in the inn of Bethlehem. He comforted her and cared for her through childbirth and the visits of the shepherds and magi. He preserved Mary’s virginity and protected her and her newborn Son, even from the tyranny of King Herod, and led them to safety in Egypt.

The last time we encounter Joseph in the Gospels is when he and Mary searched in vain for the 12 year-old child Jesus throughout Jerusalem. He and his wife sought Jesus “anxiously” (Lk 2:48), only to be amazed at His answer: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Yet Jesus returned to Nazareth, and was obedient to them (cf. Lk 2:51).

The Scriptures do not speak of the death of St. Joseph; scholars suggest that Joseph died in Nazareth, surrounded by Jesus and Mary, since no further mention of Joseph is made during Jesus’ public ministry, and furthermore, our Lord entrusted His Mother to St. John at the foot of the Cross. Many generations of Catholics have sought St. Joseph’s intercession for the grace of a happy death: to be found in the state of grace surrounded by Jesus and Mary, just as St. Joseph ended his own earthly life.

Even in the mostly silent witness of the Scriptures, we clearly see the greatness and sanctity of the foster-father of Jesus, caring for the Holy Family, providing for them, and growing in holiness through the vocation of marriage. He was clearly an obedient Jew, faithful to the Covenant with Israel; yet he was most certainly our Lord’s most ardent disciple and friend. Not much imagination is required to consider the love of St. Joseph for Jesus, and the devotion of Jesus in return. Joseph’s virtue and obedience provide an unparalleled model for fathers in raising virtuous and holy sons and daughters.

We conclude with a prayer to St. Joseph:

Gracious Saint Joseph, protect me and my family from all evil as you did the Holy Family. Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ, ever fervent in imitation of the virtue of our Blessed Lady, your sinless spouse, and always faithful in devotion to you. Amen.

St. Joseph, pray for us.