In The Hands of St. Joseph

Devotion to St. Joseph is growing. And there are good reasons for it. Here is but one reason to love the man.

In God's plan to save the world, God wanted to be with us in the flesh. He wanted to save us through the "Word made flesh." As part of that plan, God designed a certain woman to be the one who, at the proper time, would bear His Son, provide Him with a human nature, give birth to Him, and raise Him up. That woman is Mary. God created her and equipped her with all the graces she needed for her particular mission to be the Mother of God.

So when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in Nazareth, announcing her calling to bear Jesus, God's plan for being with us and saving us in the flesh depended entirely on Mary's "yes." Although God had marvelously prepared and graced Mary for this moment, it nonetheless remained her free choice to heed the call. And because it was her free choice, we can truly say that at the moment of the annunciation, our salvation was in her hands. Without Mary's freely chosen "yes", God's plan for our salvation would have been ruined.

 The same is true for St. Joseph, but not at the moment of the annunciation. Because God had decided to send His Son into the world as an infant, God was exposing his infant Son to all the murderous violence of this world. And according to Scripture, at one point the murderous violence of this world went from being a general threat to being aimed at Jesus in particular. Herod and his men set out to kill the infant messiah-king. Because of their murderous intent, the life and mission of Jesus was in real danger of being snuffed out early.

 

But God had foreseen all this. And so in advance He designed a certain man to be the one who, at the proper time, would come to the protection of the Child and His mother. That man is Joseph. God created him and equipped him with all the graces he would need for his particular mission to be the earthly Father of Jesus. As an example of such graces, one needs only to think of Joseph's many dreams and interpretations.

So when Joseph heard from the angel in the dream, "rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you" (Mt. 2:13), he was now in a situation similar to Mary at the annunciation. Although God had marvelously prepared and graced Joseph for this moment, it nonetheless remained Joseph's free choice to take action. It was his free choice to trust what he had heard in the dream. It was his free choice to heed the call to flee and to heed it immediately (Mt. 2:14 says he rose "by night" — as though on the very night he had the dream). It was his free choice to take his wife and newborn on a long, dangerous, and unplanned trip to a foreign land. And it was his free choice obediently to remain in Egypt while awaiting further notice from above. Because all of this was Joseph's free choice, we can truly say that so long as Herod lived and remained a threat to Jesus, our salvation was in Joseph's hands.

Whoever saves the King saves the kingdom. And St. Joseph saved the King.

For that, we all owe him an eternal weight of gratitude.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

MENU