Solemnity of St. Joseph
19 March 2001
1. "Here is the wise and faithful servant, whom the Lord has put in charge of his household" (cf. Lk 12: 42).
This is how today's liturgy presents St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Guardian of the Redeemer. He was the wise and faithful servant who, with obedient docility, accepted the will of the Lord, who entrusted him with "his" family on earth to watch over it with daily devotion.
St. Joseph persevered in this mission with fidelity and love. The Church, therefore, offers him to us as an exceptional model of service to Christ and to His mysterious plan of salvation. And she calls upon him as the special patron and protector of the whole family of believers. In a special way, Joseph is presented to us on his feast day as the saint under whose powerful protection divine Providence has wished to place the persons and ministry of all who are called to be "fathers" and "guardians" among the Christian people.
2. ""Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously'...."How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?'" (Lk 2: 48-49).
In this simple, family conversation between Mother and Son, which we heard a few moments ago in the Gospel, we find the characteristics of Joseph's holiness. They correspond to God's plan for him, which he, being the just man that he was, would fulfil with marvellous fidelity.
"Your father and I have been looking for you anxiously," Mary said. "I must be in my Father's house," Jesus replies. It is precisely these words of the Son that help us to understand the mystery of Joseph's "fatherhood." In reminding His parents of the primacy of the One whom He called "my Father," Jesus reveals the truth about Mary's and Joseph's role. The latter was truly Mary's "husband" and Jesus' "father," as she affirmed when she said: "Your father and I have been looking for you." But his being a husband and father is totally subordinate to that of God.
This is how Joseph of Nazareth was called, in turn, to become one of Jesus' disciples: by dedicating his life to serving the only-begotten Son of the Father and of His Virgin Mother, Mary.
It is a mission that he continues to carry out for the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, to which he never fails to give his provident care, as he did for the humble family of Nazareth.
De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia
On Marriage and Concupiscence, Book I, ch. 12-13
It was not deceitfully that the angel said to Joseph: Fear not to take unto you Mary your wife. (Mt 1:20) She is called his wife because of her first troth of betrothal, although he had had no carnal knowledge of her, nor was destined to have. The designation of wife was neither destroyed nor made untrue, where there never had been, nor was meant to be, any carnal connection. That virgin wife was rather a holier and more wonderful joy to her husband because of her very pregnancy without man, with disparity as to the child that was born, without disparity in the faith they cherished. And because of this conjugal fidelity they are both deservedly called parents (Lk 2:41) of Christ (not only she as His mother, but he as His father, as being her husband), both having been such in mind and purpose, though not in the flesh. But while the one was His father in purpose only, and the other His mother in the flesh also, they were both of them, for all that, only the parents of His humility, not of His sublimity; of His weakness, not of His divinity. For the Gospel does not lie, in which one reads, Both His father and His mother marvelled at those things which were spoken about Him; and in another passage, Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year; (Lk 2:41) and again a little afterwards, His mother said unto Him, Son, why have You thus dealt with us? Behold, Your father and I have sought You sorrowing. (Lk 2:48) . . .
The entire good, therefore, of the nuptial institution was effected in the case of these parents of Christ: there was offspring, there was faithfulness, there was the bond. As offspring, we recognise the Lord Jesus Himself; the fidelity, in that there was no adultery; the bond, because there was no divorce. Only there was no nuptial cohabitation.