I. Introduction: St. Joseph is one of the very few Saints who has two
feast days to honour him. The scriptures do not say much about this silent
saint. As a matter of fact, St. Joseph does not speak in the scriptures. His
voice is not heard. This is to be expected because St. Joseph was a man of
action more than words.
Inspiration from St. Joseph:
As we celebrate a year dedicated to St. Joseph we can draw inspiration from him
in many areas of our own lives.
listening: Matthew is the only one of the four Evangelists who places
Joseph on the centre stage in his Infancy Narrative. The angel appears to
Joseph in a dream on four separate occasions. (Mt 1:20-21; 2:13; 2:19-21;
(Mt 1:18-19) the first of these dreams (1:20-21) Joseph had already made up his
mind to follow the law because he was righteous. He became aware of the
pregnancy of Mary - to whom he was engaged or betrothed - and possibly
suspected her of adultery. The only logical explanation of the pregnancy was that
Mary was guilty of adultery. Joseph had
the choice to pursue a legal trial for adultery (Deut 22:23-27) or draw up a
bill of divorce. Joseph chose the latter option because he did not want to
publicly shame Mary and it would attract less attention.
with the ears of our head and seeing with the eyes of our head is only one way
of hearing and seeing. True hearing and seeing require that we hear and see
also with the ears and eyes of our hearts.
God’s word: The angel explains that the child conceived in Mary is from the
Holy Spirit (Mt 1:20) and Joseph must take his pregnant betrothed as his wife.
Not only is he to do that, he will also not have the privilege as the foster
father to name this child. This name has already been chosen by God as
communicated by the angel (1:21). His trust in God’s word shows in his action.
things go the way we want, it is easy to believe and trust God’s word. However,
when God’s word calls us to act the opposite of the way want, it is not easy to
accept and follow.
more than words: Joseph’s trust in God’s word does not end with his
acceptance of Mary and Jesus as his wife and son respectively. In the three
dreams that follow the first (2:13; 2:19-20 and 2:22), he is asked to perform
actions which are extremely difficult. However, since it is God’s plan and
God’s hand is at work, Joseph acts in obedience.
the first of these dreams, Joseph is asked to go to Egypt hastily. He obeys. In
the second, when the family is in Egypt, he is asked to go to Israel (2:19-20).
Once again, he obeys. The choice of Nazareth and not Judea in Israel as the
place of residence of the family is also attributed to Joseph’s obedience
sometimes look for God only in miracles or extraordinary events. Yet, God keeps
revealing God’s power, might and love in the ordinary events of our lives. Like
Joseph we must open our hearts wide to see.
without expectation: In most of our relationships with others including
members of our families, we act with some or other expectation. Sometimes, we
expect those to whom we have been generous and kind to also be generous and
kind to us in return. At others times, we expect a word of gratitude and even
praise for reaching out. At still other times, we expect that those to whom we
have reached out will not be ungrateful. With Joseph, there were no
expectations whatsoever. He did what had to done.
of us is also called by God in our own way to be God’s instrument of love and
peace. God does not expect that we do extraordinary things to reveal this love.
If like Joseph we can reach out to another even in a small way, we will have
for workers and the sanctity of work: The Gospel of Matthew tells us that
Joseph was a carpenter (13:55). He does not state whether Jesus followed his
foster father in this trade. In his Gospel, he refers to Jesus as “the
carpenter’s son” (13:55). The Gospel of Mark, however, informs us that Jesus did
follow Joseph in this trade. When Jesus goes back to his hometown, the
townsfolk identity him as “the carpenter” (Mk 6:3).
celebration of the feast of St. Joseph, the worker on the first day of May each
year – when Workers Day or Labour Day is celebrated in many countries of the
world - is a celebration of the saint and his work ethic, but also a
celebration of the participation of humans in God’s work of creation. In this
Joseph becomes an inspiration and model to workers of the meaning of hard work
and earning one’s living through the sweat of one’s brow.
of discernment and faith: Obedience to God’s word required a lot of
discernment and faith from Joseph. He was aware that he would not have been
able to recognise immediately whether he was indeed doing God’s will. The
dreams could have been the result of his own imagination. It required
discernment to know that they were not. All decisions that he had to take - the
hastening to Egypt, remaining in Egypt when the threat to the child was still
alive, and the return to Nazareth - were life changing decisions. They would
affect not only his life, but also the life of his wife Mary and Jesus. This is
why he had to be convinced of that which he could not see and hope that his
actions were in accord with what God wanted him to do.
important rule of a good discernment is that we do not make decisions when we
are upset or even elated. This is because these decisions will be based only on
emotion and not discernment. We have to be at equanimity before we make
important decisions and in this regard, Joseph is a model to be imitated.
of the family and of the world: In his role as foster father of Jesus,
Joseph was protector of his family. The safety of his family was of prime
importance to Joseph and he placed their needs and safety above his own.
quality of Joseph can be extended to include his protection of the whole world.
As he kept the interests of his family uppermost, so he keeps the interests of
the world uppermost in his intercession for the world.
we are tempted to live self-centered and selfish lives, Joseph’s selflessness
comes as a breath of fresh air inviting us to be other-centered and to make a
difference to the lives of others.
III. Conclusion: In the play Hamlet, there is a scene in which Hamlet says
to his friend Horatio “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than
are dreamt of in your philosophy” (Hamlet 1.5). One understanding of this is
that while there are many things that the human person does know, there are
possibly more things that we do not yet know.
such happening is the Covid-19 pandemic. While theories abound about the origin
of the virus and how best to respond to it, the fact is that we are still
groping in the dark. This is why like St. Joseph we are called to listen
live in times where many of us would prefer to see before we believe. If we are
of this mind, then there is no need for faith. St. Joseph teaches us to believe
even without seeing. He also teaches us to believe even when we cannot see.
This is because like him, we too must realise that God’s will for the world
will always be better than what we want for ourselves. We must learn from St.
Joseph how to make our will subservient to God’s.
actions in most cases, even the seemingly altruistic ones are often with our
eye on the reward. St Joseph teaches us that we must learn to find the reward
in the doing of the action.