Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24 (NASB)
Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife.
Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So it’s fitting that we focus our attentions today on the actions of Joseph. It’s interesting, not a single word from Joseph’s mouth is uttered in Scripture, and yet we know much about him from his actions, particularly in this passage. He saw that Mary was with child and, like anyone would, expected it was by another man. But rather than accuse her, drag her out in public and proclaim her an adulterer (and all the punishments that entails), he wanted to send her away secretly. He was a “righteous man,” he loved Mary and did not want to see her shamed. He was a gentle man, and did not wish her harm. So he was going to simply secret her away, so that she could raise her child in peace. That alone tells us much about his character, and the depth of the love he had for Mary.
But then Joseph gets a glorious vision! An angel appears to him in a dream! Joseph is told to still his fear, and to take Mary as his wife, for the child is Jesus the Messiah. It is not recorded, but I imagine Joseph woke in a cold sweat, bewildered by what he had just heard. He is to act as father to the Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit! If he wasn’t afraid before, he must be now! That is a tremendous amount of pressure! If an angel were to say to me that I would be responsible for raising the savior of the world, I would probably run away screaming in terror at the very idea. But just as we saw the depth of Joseph’s love in the first part of this passage, in this we see the depth of his faith.
Joseph does not hesitate. He hears the word from God, and he obeys. He trusts fully in God’s will, and with no thought of what others might think of him raising another man’s child (which is surely what everyone thought), or marrying an adulterous woman (again, what everyone must have thought), he put God’s will before all. It’s easy to talk about having faith in small things, but it’s much more difficult to speak of giving yourself over fully to the will of God, with no thought of what you would prefer. This is what St. Joseph did.
The Gospels leave Joseph silent for a reason. His silence speaks volumes to the kind of man he was. He did not live for himself, he had no interest in receiving praise and honors. He lived for God and for his family. He cared only that God’s will be done, and that his wife and her child were loved and cared for. St. Joseph is an icon for fathers and husbands everywhere. In a time in which we seem increasingly confused about what “masculinity” means, St. Joseph is there to provide the shining example.