Today’s guest post is by Brandon Rappuhn, a Logos marketing copywriter.
According to tradition, St. Joseph, the foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was born and raised in Bethlehem. He learned the trade of carpentry from his father, just as he would pass that trade on to his foster son, Jesus. Joseph was an honorable and righteous man, who followed the law of Moses for the purpose of serving God and his fellow man (Matthew 1:19). This man of humble stature has had a deep and profound influence on the Catholic Church for the past 2,000 years.
Admittedly, much of what we know of Joseph is speculation, educated guesses, and hearsay. But none of our veneration is without merit. The plain and simple fact that God chose Joseph and Mary to raise, teach, and train the child Jesus attests far more to their character than even the Church assumes. The Church remembers that Joseph is a simple, humble man and that he protected Mary and Jesus when they were vulnerable (Matthew 2:14), but that probably wasn’t the only time Joseph kept Mary and Jesus from harm. He worked with his hands to provide a bed, food, and clothing for the young Jesus—the small, vulnerable child who was (and is) the God of the entire universe.
It is commonly held that Joseph gently passed away of natural causes before Jesus began his public ministry. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that St. Epiphanius says Joseph died at 90 years of age, and Venerable Bede attests he was buried in the Valley of Josaphat. In any case, Joseph’s mission on earth was completed as Jesus prepared to enter into public ministry, leaving Jesus and Mary to begin a radical movement and new covenant that would change the world.
St. Joseph in the world today
We venerate St. Joseph today as the patron of fathers, workers, and the celibate. Countless parishes, schools, hospitals, and US counties have been named after him. Pope Pius IX devoted himself to St. Joseph and, in 1847, established that his feast day should be honored by the entire Catholic Church. Later, in 1871, the same pope declared that the entire Church should be under his patronage, thus establishing him today as the Church’s protector. Just as God appointed him to protect Jesus and Mary, so does he continue to pray for the protection of the Church Jesus so loves.