This Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Jesus and Mary usually get most of the attention, and poor Joseph is usually in the shadows. I hope that in this coming year, as we celebrate the Year of Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, a bit more light can be shed on him and the very important role that he played.
If you look at the first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, you find Matthew’s Infancy Narrative. His account of the birth of Jesus is seen through the eyes of Saint Joseph, while Luke’s version is told through the eyes of the Blessed Mother.
Matthew’s Gospel begins by telling us that Mary was pledged to marry Joseph, but before the marriage, she is found to be with child. The Scripture tells us that Joseph is a righteous man. Other translations call him a just man. This means that he was faithful to God and to God’s law. The law permitted him to divorce Mary and to have her stoned to death as an adulterer. But in addition to being a righteous or just man, he was a good and compassionate man, and chose to divorce her quietly.
An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the child was indeed the Son of God. Joseph did as he was told. Two other times we are told of Joseph receiving angelic messages in his dreams, and in each he obeyed completely.
The Gospel for this Feast of the Holy Family tells the story of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The detail I want to highlight is that the Scripture identifies Joseph as Jesus’ father. It does not say foster father or step father. It says father. He is not biologically Jesus’ father, but he is Jesus’ adoptive father. We sell Joseph short when we refuse to call him Jesus’ father. In fact, it is through Joseph, his adoptive father, that Jesus is in the line of King David.
Let us work at giving Joseph his due.
And may every family strive during this new year of 2021 to become a truly holy family.
–Fr. Mike Comer