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St. Joseph

Name: St. Joseph
Date: 19 March

Saint Joseph was by birth of the royal family of David, but was living in humble obscurity as acarpenter, until God raised him to the highest office ever accorded a mortal man, by choosing him tobe the spouse of the Virgin Mother, the virginal father and guardian of the Incarnate Word. Joseph,says Holy Scripture, was a just man. He was innocent and pure, as became the husband of Mary; hewas gentle and tender, as one worthy to be named the father of Jesus; he was prudent and a lover ofsilence, as became the master of the holy house; above all, he was faithful and obedient to divinecalls.

His conversation was with Angels rather than with men. When he learned that Mary bore within Herwomb the Lord of heaven, he feared to take Her as his wife; but an Angel bade him put his fearaside, and all doubts vanished. When Herod sought the life of the divine Infant, an Angel toldJoseph in a dream to fly with the Child and His Mother into Egypt. Joseph at once arose andobeyed. This sudden and unexpected flight must have exposed both him and his little Family tomany inconveniences and sufferings; the journey with a newborn infant and a tender virgin was long,and the greater part of the way led through deserts and among strangers. Yet Saint Joseph allegesno excuses, nor inquires at what time they were to return.

Saint Chrysostom observes that God treats in this way all His servants, sending them frequent trialsto clear their hearts from the rust of self-love, but intermixing with afflictions, seasons of consolation. It is the opinion of the Fathers that when the Holy Family entered Egypt, at the presence of theChild Jesus all the oracles of that superstitious country were struck dumb, and the statues of theirgods trembled, and in many places fell to the ground. The Fathers also attribute to this holy visit thespiritual benediction poured on that country, which made it for many ages fruitful in Saints.

After the death of King Herod, of which Saint Joseph was informed in another vision, God orderedhim to return with the Child and His Mother into the land of Israel, which our Saint readilyaccomplished. But when he arrived in Judea, hearing that Archelaus had succeeded Herod in thatpart of the land, and apprehensive that the son might be infected with his father’s vices, he feared tosettle there, as he would otherwise probably have done, for the education of the Child. Therefore,directed by God through still another angelic visit, he retired into the dominions of Herod Antipas inGalilee, and to his former habitation in Nazareth.

Saint Joseph, a strict observer of the Mosaic law, journeyed each year at the time of the Passover toJerusalem. Our Saviour, in the twelfth year of His age, accompanied His parents. Havingparticipated in the usual ceremonies of the feast, the parents were returning with many of theirneighbors and acquaintances towards Galilee, and never doubted that Jesus was with some of thecompany. They traveled on for a whole day’s journey before they discovered that He was not withthem. But when night came on and they could find no trace of Him among their kindred andacquaintances, they, in the deepest affliction, returned with the utmost haste to Jerusalem. We areleft to imagine their tears and their efforts to find Him. After an anxious search of three days theydiscovered Him in the Temple, discoursing with the learned doctors of the law, and asking them suchquestions as aroused the admiration of all who heard Him. His Mother told Him with what grief andearnestness they had sought Him and asked, “Son, why have You dealt with us in this way? Behold,Your Father and I have searched for You in great affliction of mind.” The young Saviour answered,“How is it that You sought Me? Did You not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” In this way Jesus encourages all young persons who are called to serve God to persevere in that highvocation, whatever the cost. But we are told that although He had remained in the Temple unknownto His parents, in all other things He was obedient to them, returning with them to Nazareth, andliving there in all dutiful subjection to them.

 As no further mention is made of Saint Joseph, he must have died before the marriage feast of Canaand the beginning of our divine Saviour’s ministry. We cannot doubt that he had the happiness ofthe presence of Jesus and Mary at his death, praying beside him, assisting and comforting him in hislast moments; therefore he is invoked for the great grace of a happy death and the spiritual presenceof Jesus in that hour.

Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris,

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