My dear Covenant Partners and GEM Family
Joseph is among our most revered and beloved Catholic saints. In 1870, Pope Pius IX proclaimed St. Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church. In Catholic tradition, St. Joseph is hailed as the patron of a happy death. Many of our saints experienced St. Joseph as a very powerful intercessor on their behalf. St. Teresa of Avila (d. 1582) said, “I am astonished at the great favors which God has bestowed on me through this blessed saint, and at the perils from which He has freed me, both in body and soul” (The Book of her Life). St. Francis de Sales believed that St. Joseph was assumed into heaven body and soul, although this conviction has not been defined by the Magisterium. Several Popes have recognized the importance of St. Joseph in the Church. Among them, we must include Pope St. John Paul II who urged us to seek St. Joseph’s patronage ceaselessly in these troubled times. Lastly, St. Joseph is honored greatly in our Eucharistic Liturgy. March 19 is a Solemnity of the feast of St. Joseph. In 1955, Pope Pius XII established the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1, to counter the ‘May Day’ celebrations of communist countries.
There is enough said about Joseph in the New Testament to help us appreciate his holiness, even though the gospels do not record a single spoken word from him. Luke 2: 4 tells us that Joseph “was of the house and family of David.” Through King David, Joseph became the link between the Mosaic Covenant of the Old Testament and the New Covenant established by Jesus, Son of David, through His death on the cross. Through Jesus, the Promised Land, then becoming King David’s established kingdom, came to an end, and the new Promised Land and the new Kingdom of God was instituted. Jesus has become our Messiah-King!
Matthew 1: 19 describes Joseph as “a righteous man.” He lived according to the commandments of God and emulated God’s love. He was betrothed to Mary and considered married. A year after the betrothal, the groom fetched the bride to his home with much celebration and ceremony. Then the marriage was consummated and they lived as husband and wife. Joseph found out about Mary’s pregnancy before he could bring her home. Matthew 1: 19 gives us Joseph’s reaction: “Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” One tradition avers that Joseph felt unworthy and even afraid to marry Mary because he knew that his betrothed had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. His solution was to divorce her quietly. The traditional understanding is based on Scripture. The angel Gabriel let Joseph in on God’s plan of salvation: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1: 20-21). It was in God’s righteousness, then, that Joseph take Mary to be his lawful wife. Like Mary, Joseph was totally obedient to God’s will. He took Mary as his wife and became Jesus’ foster father in accordance with God’s will. Only the Holy Spirit could bring about this turnaround in Joseph, from feeling betrayed and confused to being amazed at God’s action in Mary’s pregnancy and his mission to become the foster father of Jesus, Messiah and Son of God. God bless you! You are in our daily prayers!