The feast of Jesus, Mother Mary and all the saints is celebrated by the Catholic Church on different days. But the feast of the death day of Joseph is the first of its kind. St Joseph is the only one who has been called Blessed in the Holy Scripture.
Let us look at the life of St Joseph which made him blessed before the Lord. The first sign to be called Blessed is having a strong faith in God (Luke 1: 45). We see this faith in St Joseph too. Joseph’s response to the message he received from the angel in his dream was not through words but through action.
The message he received would have shattered any other young man. Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Joseph gets the news of Mary’s pregnancy and his mind was in turmoil. The thought that Mary cheated him plagued him. He was worried about the society and being cast away from it. His love for Mary was weighing on the other side. If Joseph rejected Mary, then he was afraid that Mary would be stoned to death as per the Jewish law.
Joseph’s faith in God was strong and this made him take mature decisions. The Gospel of Mathew has clearly captured this. “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly” (Mathew 1:19). Joseph’s decision is a prime challenge for those who wish to divorce their wives for simple reasons. The rest of the verses describe this faith further.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, f because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” which means “God with us”. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (Mathew 1:20-24). Joseph does not question the angel nor does he wait for an answer. He has no complaints. He was ready to do the will of God. This is the epitome of Joseph’s faith in God through the silent obedience to the will of God. Joseph does not speak anywhere in the scripture.
We see this kind of faith and the action that results out of it seen even in Abraham. The history of salvation begins with Abraham. Jesus is the descendant of Abraham. So Joseph the foster father of Jesus should also have that kind of faith. “The Lord took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5). Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him (Genesis 21:5). The Lord asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and Abraham sets out early in the morning to fulfill the word of God (Genesis 22: 1-30). Abraham fulfilled the will of God with faith and the savior was born from the descendant of Abraham (Mathew 1:21).
In the gospel of Mathew, we see the angel giving the message of God through a dream.
- The fleeing to Egypt. Joseph listens to the word of God and wakes up and takes Mary and the baby and flees to Egypt. Mathew 2: 13-14.
- The return to Israel and doing the will of God without any question shows the faith and this faith is what made him the Blessed.
All that is said about the people that are blessed in the gospel of Mathew is fulfilled in Joseph. “Blessed are you who are poor in spirit” (Mathew 5:3). The birth of Jesus in a manger, fleeing several times, being called the son of a carpenter; all these speak of Joseph’s poverty. Carpenter or their sons were not considered higher up in the society. Neglect and poverty was their friends. Poverty was the constant companion of Joseph and his family. Poor Joseph became Blessed. Joseph’s silence, his faith, the suffering he had to go through to be just gave him the name Blessed.
Joseph is blessed in several ways. He had the opportunity to cradle the son of God in his arms and bring him up. He had the opportunity to work with and spend part of his life with and then die being cared for by Jesus and Mary, this makes him the most blessed human being. Let us seek the intercession of St Joseph. Let us join all the saints and praise and worship God.