We have the big Saint’s day this week, and I don’t mean St. Patrick. Nothing against St. Patrick, but he wasn’t the spouse of Mary and didn’t help raise Jesus, and he isn’t the patron saint of our parish.
Today, March 19th, is normally the day we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, spouse of the Virgin Mary, but due to it being a Sunday in Lent it is moved this year to Monday the 20th. While we don’t know many facts about Joseph there are a few that the Gospels give us to be aware of. First we hear of the genealogy of Jesus through “Joseph, the husband of Mary.” (MT 1:1-16) This seems kind of strange to us since we know that he is not the biological father of Jesus. But Joseph will not only raise him as his son, but he also claims him as such. This meant at the time that Joseph had legal paternity and Jesus could be recognized as of the race of David through him. Joseph is also told by an angel that he is to name his son Jesus. In naming the child his paternity is also established.
Probably our most important understanding of Joseph is as a protector of both Jesus and Mary. We realize from the beginning that he considered, and could have easily divorced Mary because of where they were in their betrothal process when she became pregnant, and even when he considered divorce he was being kind in considering a way that Mary would not come to the harm that she might. But instead he would stay with her, protecting Mary from what could have happened to her, and we realize then even protecting her and Jesus at the message of an angel as they would go into Egypt to avoid Herod’s search for him.
This role of protector is one that is interesting when we consider he is protecting Jesus, who is God and man, and also Mary, who was specially chosen by God and without sin. What a trust in man that God puts in Joseph, to care for these two that so much will depend upon. That is why his title of Protector of the Church is important not only for us to recognize, but also to be encouraged by. If Joseph can do this, we can stand up for our faith and our Church when it is challenged. Not only for honor of God, but also for the concern and care for others to find God through the Church. And in return we also have a title of St. Joseph as patron saint of the dying. As he protected and cared for Mary and Jesus, so they would care for him at his death, and he is known as the patron saint for a happy death.
At our parish we can always be reminded of St. Joseph just by looking around our church at the beautiful stained glass windows that depict his life. May we remember and celebrate St. Joseph and consider how we may be called to protect our family, one another, and even God’s Church.