As we begin our final preparations for what is undoubtedly the holiest week of the year, my thoughts are drawn to an often overlooked and hidden figure of the New Testament, the great St. Joseph. Pope Francis has called for a Year Dedicated to St. Joseph (December 2020 – December 2021) and has asked all Christians to spend time drawing closer to their spiritual father.
This of course raises the question, why? Why spend any time with anyone other than Jesus? Is not Jesus the way and the truth and the life (Jn. 14:6)? Yes, he is. Is he not the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5)? He is the only mediator. Is he not our Faithful High Priest (Heb. 2:17)? Most assuredly. So why give any attention to St. Joseph? For this reason, God the Father entrusted his eternally begotten son to him. Think about what that says. Because what it tells me is that God the Father trusts St. Joseph a lot. So we should too.
It is absolutely astounding that God could ever trust a man with such an exalted mission. To be the living, breathing, icon of God the Father for the child Jesus. To be entrusted with safeguarding the virginal integrity of the Mother of God. To be the savior of the savior of the world – with God’s help of course! To rise in the middle of the night and fly into Egypt, because the angel of the Lord asked you to in a dream. Think about that. No plans, no preparations, no family, or friends waiting for you, no job, nothing but a call to leave now (Mt. 2:13). And St. Joseph responded without hesitation. No questions asked. Just like he did when he was asked by the angel of the Lord to take Our Lady to be his wife. Complete obedience. So attractive.
In the Catholic Tradition, St. Joseph is hailed as the patron of husbands and fathers, and for good reason. God trusted him with the raising of his son. Think about that. It was Joseph and Mary who safeguarded the secret of the Incarnation until Jesus’ public ministry, thirty years later. It was St. Joseph who protected God. Who provided for him, nurtured him, loved him, and laid his life down for him in a hundred ways, every day? Think about that. Who was it that Jesus looked to as a little boy to teach him to walk and talk and work? Whom did he look to in his human nature to show him how to be a man? Who did he love and revere as a little boy? It was St. Joseph.
After the Blessed Virgin Mary’s mission to be the Mother of God, there was no more exalted mission in the history of salvation than that of St. Joseph. To be the husband of the Mother of God and daddy to the Son of God. Unthinkable. And yet, that was St. Joseph’s exalted vocation. What sublime virtue and holiness would be required for such a call. To be entrusted with God’s own son and his mother.
It is easy to overlook St. Joseph, but that would be a mistake. We should ask for his intercession, especially as husbands and fathers, for the families entrusted to our care as men. It is not idolatrous to ask other men to pray for us. Worship and adoration belong to God alone, but veneration is different. And good heavens, should we revere the man entrusted with God’s own son. In the words of Genesis, go to Joseph (Gen. 41:55). He is your spiritual father, and he wants to help draw you closer to Jesus Christ, through his prayers.