St. Joseph was the husband of Mary and the foster-father of Jesus. What little we know of his life comes from the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke. Joseph’s father was named Jacob, and he was a descendant of King David (Matthew 1:16). While working as a carpenter in Nazareth, Joseph became formally engaged to Mary, being willing to respect her vow of perpetual virginity.
When Mary was discovered to be pregnant, Joseph naturally assumed she had been unfaithful to him. He could have denounced her, thus sparing his reputation while ruining hers, but he didn’t want to hurt her — so he decided to combine mercy and justice by divorcing her quietly. It was after Joseph made this noble decision that the angel of the Lord revealed the truth to him (Matthew 1:18-25). Joseph believed this amazing message; he went ahead with his marriage to Mary, and then took her to Bethlehem for a census; while there, Jesus was born (Luke 2:1-7).
Because he was the head of the Holy Family, it was to Joseph that God sent an angel with a warning to flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15); when it was safe, the Holy Family returned to Nazareth. As an upright and hard-working man, Joseph taught Jesus his own trade of carpentry, and faithfully guarded and served Him and Mary. Tradition states that St. Joseph died sometime before Jesus began His public ministry at the age of thirty; he is considered the Patron of the Universal Church and the Patron of a happy death.
1. True greatness doesn’t depend on all the right “advantages”: wealth, a good education, and the proper social connections. St. Joseph had none of these things, but his humility and integrity allowed God to make him one of the greatest saints.
2. Genuine humility doesn’t excuse us from our responsibilities. Joseph knew he couldn’t compare in holiness to Jesus or Mary — but he nonetheless exercised authority over them in accord with God’s will.
From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day
“Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you.” … And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt.”
—Matthew 2:13, 14
St. Joseph responded to the word of God immediately. How quickly do I respond to God’s word and the promptings of the Holy Spirit? St. Joseph’s obedience to God saved his family from calamity. Can I remember a time when my obedience to God saved me from some disaster or unfortunate situation? To what extent will this help me to obey God promptly today and in the future?