March 20, 2012
The Lord be with you
Okay, I also missed the Festival of St. Joseph, Guardian of Jesus, which was yesterday, March 19. To make matters worse, I don’t have an earlier post I can link you to.
Joseph was, of course, the husband of Mary and the step-father of Jesus. While he has been honored throughout the Christian centuries for his faithful devotion in helping Mary raise her Son, his popularity has greatly increased over the last 500 years. Matthew’s Gospel relates that Joseph was a “just” man. This not only means that he was a devout man who adhered to the Law and that he was kind and wise, but also, and most importantly, that he looked to the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises concerning the Messiah. Before Jesus was ever conceived, Joseph trusted in him.
Joseph followed the angel’s instruction, which he received in a dream, and took the already pregnant Mary to be his wife (Matthew 1:24). He also responded to a warning, received in a dream, and took the Holy Family to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14). Receiving Divine direction in dreams echoes how God often (but not always) guided the Old Testament Patriarchs, which is probably why the Eastern Orthodox churches recognize Joseph with them. Joseph was there when Jesus was born (Luke 2:16), circumcised (Luke 2:21), at His presentation presentation (Luke 2:22), and the search for Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52).
Joseph was a carpenter by trade (though the Greek word can mean “artisan”). He apparently taught Jesus his trade as our Lord was also called “the carpenter” (Mark 6:3). Matthew 13:55 might be understood as implying that Joseph was still alive when Jesus began his ministry. However, he certainly had died by the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. From the cross Jesus put Mary in the charge of his disciple John, something that would be unnecessary if Joseph was still alive (John 19:26-27). While an important figure in the early life of Jesus, keeping both him and Mary safe, the last explicit reference to Joseph is when Jesus is 12-years-old (Luke 2:41-51), when the Holy Family visited Jerusalem for the Passover.
Joseph, the guardian of our Lord, has long been associated with caring parenthood as well as with skilled craftsmanship. He is the patron saint of Canada.
Appropriate prayers include:
- For fathers and foster parents
For quiet confidence
For humble service
For those who work with their hands; artisans and laborers
Pastor John Rickert