My niece and her husband are newlyweds trying to sell their houses. Brian is Jewish, but both of them buried a little statue of St. Joseph in their yards. This popular custom no doubt arose because Joseph was head of the house in the Holy Family and a carpenter (or construction worker) at that. I reminded my niece that after a house sells, the statue is supposed to be exhumed and set in a place of honor in the new house. She knew that.
After the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph is the greatest saint, although he doesn’t utter a single word in the Gospels. Joseph was God’s choice for a father. God knew that Joseph was a suitable partner for the holiest woman in the world—truly a match made in heaven! It was Joseph who taught Jesus what it was to be a man. He passed on the Jewish faith to Jesus and taught him his trade.
Joseph was obedient. When an angel instructed him to marry the girl he was espoused to, even though she was scandalously pregnant, he did. When the government ordered a census, Joseph made the long journey to Bethlehem with his wife, who was then nine months pregnant. To top it off, when they arrived, there were no rooms available. How frustrating for Joseph, who knew that he was responsible for the Savior of the world.
Like Mary, Joseph led anything but a charmed life. Imagine learning that Herod wanted to kill Jesus and having to flee to a strange land. I wonder if it was hard for Joseph to find work there to support his little family. Then, when Jesus was missing in Jerusalem for three days (and two nights!), Joseph must have been filled with anxiety and dread coupled with guilt for not being more responsible. That is the last we hear of Joseph, so we assume he died before Jesus left home. If so, Mary and Jesus were probably at his deathbed, which is why we pray to Joseph for the grace of a happy death.
Now Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church, the Mystical Body of Jesus. He is also patron of workers. The recently canonized Holy Cross brother Andre Bassette had a great devotion to St. Joseph. He was the force behind the construction of the basilica in honor of St. Joseph, which is in Montreal. I pray for St. Joseph’s protection when I drive. Does he have a special role in your life?
Image: Jason Jenicke, www.jasonjenicke.com