A Reflection on St. Joseph by Joe Rodrigues

Of all the great patriarchs who walked this earth and of all the men who most selflessly served their Lord, there is no man more humble, more just and more closely united with Christ, than St. Joseph of Nazareth. In Joseph, Jesus not only found the most noble of fathers, but a true friend who willingly abandoned himself to the Divine Will of God, receiving all the sufferings and graces that came with it. St. Joseph’s mission was apparent as he was to be the Virgin-Father of the Redeemer and the Chaste Spouse of Holy Mary.

St. Joseph, by taking on the role of father and husband in this earthly trinity, was to become a role model and intercessor for all mankind. He shows us how to humble ourselves – making our hearts more receptive to the graces which God wishes to send us. Only when we do this can we allow Him to enter since our prides and arrogances act as locked doors to our inmost being. The Lord is constantly knocking in the hopes that we may allow Him entry into our humble abode (Revelation 3:20), however unlike St. Joseph who willingly opened wide the door to his heart, many of us continue to place obstacles behind our own doors and reinforce our locks. We refuse to open our hearts to God’s Will, instead selfishly clinging to our own. Because St. Joseph denied himself, therefore allowing the Lord to enter his heart, he had the strength to carry the crosses which were given to him through his earthly life.

St. Joseph accepts life’s heavy crosses and difficulties which in time becomes a means of sanctification. In the Gospel of St. Mark (8:34), Jesus addresses the crowd with an invitation to those who wish to be His followers. Without forcing or demanding that they follow Him, Christ respects the gift of free will bestowed upon mankind. He advises the people that if they wish to be with Him, they must first deny themselves, and then willingly take up their figurative crosses. Only after they have committed themselves in this way will they be ready to become His true followers and true friends. Before Jesus was even born, St. Joseph had already denied himself and had his own cross to bear. However, shortly after wedding the Blessed Virgin, his became an even heavier cross as is shown to us in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke.

How fitting it must be that St. Joseph be known as “St. Joseph the Worker” and “St. Joseph the Carpenter”, given that his only Son would one day work the redemption of the world by the wood of the Cross. When Our Lord was born into this world, St. Joseph lovingly fashioned a cradle for him out of wood. The Holy Family was supported by the labor of St. Joseph with Jesus later working by his side. There is no doubt that St. Joseph and Our Lord both had deep respect and love for the work they performed. A piece of wood was not just so, as it would carved and whittled into something beautiful, sometimes becoming a part of something great. St. Joseph appreciated the wood with which they worked as it contributed not only to the roof over their heads, but the food on their table, which would in turn nourish them. The wood which was once a means of support for the Holy Family would later have a part in the redemptive plan as Jesus embraced His wooden cross on the road to Calvary, only to spill His blood upon it for the salvation of souls.

St. Joseph, who would be there to kiss the delicate fingers of the Child Jesus who would sit atop his workbench as he worked, who would be there to teach his Son in the ways of God and manhood, would be absent from the latter years of His life. Not to witness the public ministry of Jesus, nor to kiss His bruises at the crucifixion, St. Joseph would have to accept the honor of being made the Patron of a Happy Death, by departing from this world, while in the arms of his beloveds: Jesus and Mary.

Just as St. Joseph whittled and carved wood with his hands to support his family, so too did God shape and mold Joseph into a likeness of His own image not only for his role as Head of the Holy Family, but for his role as intercessor for us today. The Heavenly Father deigned to choose Joseph specifically to be His reflection on earth – to live as the Virgin-Father of the Redeemer by loving and nurturing the Son of God, greater than any natural father would. In return, Our Lord most certainly loves and honors St. Joseph and still recognizes him as a father, granting his holy petitions and desires. Our Lord has not forgotten His most faithful guardian and has raised him to be with Him in the splendor of the Heavenly Father’s house, crowning him with the glory of eternal life! (St. John 14:2-3, St. James 1:12)       

+ Benedicamus Domino!