Friday, March 12, 2010

Joseph the Faithful

Today (March 19) is the feast day (saint celebration) of Joseph. Depending on your view of Joseph, he is called the husband of the Virgin Mary, the earthly father of Jesus or the guardian of Jesus. For many Christians, Protestant and Catholic, Mary is the first Christian, the first to believe in Christ. She served as Theotokos, the "God-bearer".

However, there is good reason to include Joseph, if not as the first believer, as the second. After all, he wasn't pregnant. In the gospel according to Matthew, Joseph learned about the circumstances Mary's pregnancy in a dream. Despite his misgivings and probable fears (do you want to be with the woman who is carrying the Son of God?), Joseph stood by his woman, helped her give birth in a stable, and raised Jesus with love and discipline. (Joseph, like Mary, was worried when they thought they lost Jesus during the post-Temple return trip in Jesus' 12th year.)

We don't hear much about Joseph once Jesus starts his formal ministry and it's not unreasonable to figure that he might have been dead, especially if he had been older than Mary at all. People probably whispered about him (and her) for the rest of their life together. Yet Joseph, for what we know, remained true to Mary and true to Jesus. We do well to consider his faithfulness and willingness to be God's servant as well.

Joseph is considered the patron saint of carpenters, against doubt, dying, engineers, families, fathers, happy death, against hesitation, married couples, social justice, social workers, working men and the Church Universal.

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