LESSON FOUR: SAINT

St. Joseph

The genealogy of Joseph, the spouse of Mary, is found in two gospels (Mt 1:16 and Lk 3:23). He was born in Bethlehem, the city of David, and later moved to Nazareth where he was a tekton, a mechanic or carpenter. There he met Mary and was betrothed to her. He was very troubled when she was apparently pregnant although they had not been intimate with one another. Still, he loved Mary and wanted to protect her from the problems this created in the small town of Nazareth. In great mental anguish over this and while still planning to send Mary away to another place, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream (Matthew 1:19, 20, 24). The angel told him not to fear, but to take Mary as his wife, and that she had conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph obeyed the angelís direction and took Mary as his wife.

A few months later when Mary was about nine months pregnant, they had to travel to Bethlehem for a census ordered by Caesar Augustus. It must have been difficult for Joseph to see Mary in pain as she rode on a donkey. It was even worse when he could find no place for her to spend the night in Bethlehem especially since she might have her baby at any time. We can only imagine the roller-coaster ride of feelings and emotions that Joseph experienced taking Mary to a poor stable where she gave birth and then the shepherds arrived sent by an angel. He must have been elated when the kings arrived to give homage to Jesus. But then he was jolted by the news from an angel in a dream that King Herod wanted to kill Jesus and that he must take Mary and Jesus to Egypt for their own safety (Matthew 2:13).

After a few years, Joseph returned Mary and Jesus to Nazareth where he lived a simple and uneventful life of a Jewish carpenter. The last we hear of St. Joseph in scripture is that when Jesus was twelve, Mary and Joseph lost track of him in Jerusalem. When they found him, he has speaking with great wisdom to leaders of the Temple (Luke 2:42-51). It is inferred that Joseph died before Jesus began his public ministry, since Jesus, as he is dying on the cross, asks John to care for his mother.

Special devotion is given to St. Joseph since he was chosen by God to be the foster-father of Jesus and the spouse of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. St. Joseph was a great protector of Mary when she was pregnant outside of marriage. He was also a wise and strong guide for his family in helping them escape from the wrath of King Herod and then leading them back to their native land.

St. Joseph is a model for everyone in how he loved and protected those closest to him. He is a tremendous example of patient faith, loving others in the midst of misunderstanding, waiting for enlightenment from God. He is also a model of humility settling for a quiet, unpretentious life, accepting trying circumstances without complaint, and trusting in God.

Men, especially, pray to St. Joseph to help them find the right spouse and to remain pure as they enter into marriage. Husbands pray to St. Joseph that he might ask Jesus for the grace they need to keep their marriage vows, to be loving and faithful, and to avoid materialism and sins of the flesh. Fathers pray to St. Joseph that they may lead and guide their families in the ways of faith, loving and protecting them from evil, and guiding them to the Truth.

We all pray to St. Joseph for patient faith, true love of spouse and family, righteous living, purity, and humility.

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