Post-Theophany: Joseph

In the Nativity narratives there are three people who are essential to the plot line: St. Mary, of course, St. Joseph and the Forerunner, St. John the Baptist. Let’s have a look at the one who is least discussed and often forgotten, Joseph, the husband of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He is described as such, because as the Gospels record, “After … Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’” (Matthew 1)

According to the Scriptures and Church Tradition, Joseph was a carpenter by trade and lived in Nazareth in Galilee. He is described as a righteous man, and a devout man of faith, as is evidence by his obedience to God’s command. St. Matthew continues, “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.”

Joseph was the adoptive father of Jesus, who raised the child Jesus as his own. In the Western Church, he is regarded as the patron saint of adoptions.

Joseph gives us a very special example to apply to our lives. When we pray, we articulate, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We ask that God’s Will be evident in our lives, here on earth. The reason Jesus instructs us to pray those words is because the way that His Will can be manifest in this world is through our participation. We pray and articulate it as such to remind us of our participation in the Kingdom. Joseph understood that if God’s Kingdom was to come, his participation was essential. And so against all the odds, against the conventions and norms of the day, against the possibilities of a virgin birth (which are none), against the put downs of gossiping mouth, and humiliation by members of his own community, Joseph says, “Thy Will be Done” and obediently follows the order to take Mary as his wife.

Some of the hardest solutions in this world begin by us simply accepting the responsibility to be a participant in God’s Kingdom. Joseph gives up his comfort and his dreams to ensure the Kingdom in enacted, “on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

Let us pray, from a traditional prayer dedicated to the Blessed husband, “Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

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