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St Joseph, Husband of Mary
Patron of the Universal Church and of happy deaths, (entered heaven this day sometime in the first century)
Have you ever thought about how God would describe you? If he were to introduce you to the heavenly court, for instance, what would he say? “Attention everyone! Attention! Here is Seth, the son of Karl and Martha, the architecture student, the…” What would he say? It’s an odd question I’ll admit. It came to mind as I was reflecting on today’s saint. God describes him to us directly, explicitly, with a one-liner that should knock our socks right off. God is the principal author of Sacred Scripture, remember, and he insured that although the human authors were real authors, they wrote only and all that which God wanted to be written. So when Scripture describes Joseph (David’s descendant, Mary’s husband, and Jesus’ foster-father), it’s like God is introducing us to him. And what does he say? “Joseph was an upright man.” (Matthew 1:19) Some translations, say “a just man,” or “a godly man.” If you think about it, that is an amazing statement. It means that God was fully satisfied with St Joseph. God could count on him; he was upright, trustworthy, honest, virtuous – this is God describing him, and God really knows.
But what did Joseph do to receive such a recommendation? Nothing spectacular from our perspective. Scripture doesn’t even record one word he spoke. All we know is that he was poor (which is why he and Mary had to offer two doves instead of a lamb when they presented Jesus in the Temple), he was a carpenter (which is the equivalent of town handyman), he followed the Jewish customs, he was devoted to Mary, and he obeyed God’s will. That above all. On a merely natural level, what God asked of him (marry a pregnant virgin and live as her husband but in perpetual continence; travel and back and forth to Egypt; protect and educate the Son of God…) was uncomfortable, to say the least; it probably didn’t fit too well with his personal plans. But he was willing to abandon his plans in favor of God’s will whenever the Lord asked him to. In the Lord’s book, that’s what makes someone “upright.”
If that’s the case, no wonder St Joseph is Patron of the Universal Church: if we all did what he did, we would all be saints.
Your loving uncle, Eddy