by Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC
At this time when we celebrate fatherhood, in particular our own fathers, it might be well to exam how Saint Joseph carried out his parental responsibilities. We do not know a lot about him, but what we do know can give us glimpses of his role as the earthly father of Jesus.
I think many artists have been unkind in their rendition of Joseph. Too often paintings of the Holy Family show Mary’s husband as an old man with a white beard standing by a young woman and her baby son. Somehow I doubt that God would entrust his dear son, Jesus to someone who had already lived most of his life and was old enough to be Mary’s father. I would like to believe that Jesus was born to a young couple whose deep love taught him about the great commandment and how to live. Jesus needed a father who would teach him to be a man of God. Mary needed a husband with who would be able to share the responsibility of parenthood.
First of all, Joseph was faithful to his promises and commitments. Even when Mary told him she had conceived a child by the Holy Spirit and this child would be the son of God, he did not abandon her to the punishment of the Jewish authorities. He loved Mary and believed in her and did not want to get her in trouble.
Joseph was a man of faith and, knowing how hard it was for him to fathom what was happening to Mary, God sent an angel to reassure him that the baby truly was for real and he was to be the guardian, the earthly father, of the son of God. It was Joseph’s faith and deep trust in Yahweh that enabled him to believe even though he did not understand. He was willing to be a support person for Mary and he was willing to raise Jesus as his own son. Joseph was obedient and wanted to do God’s will.
As the scriptures indicate, Joseph was a carpenter. He probably worked hard to provide for Jesus and Mary. Even though there is not much is written about Joseph, I envision him as a man of prayer who shared his wisdom with his son and taught him about life. God would only provide the best for his son, Jesus.
Like motherhood, fatherhood is a vocation. Our children are entrusted to us by God and both mother and father are called to nurture their faith by actively living it. There is a saying that “faith is caught, not taught,” and the most important people to make this happen are parents.