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Saint Joseph the Worker

Saint Joseph the Worker
  • Century: 1st Century
  • Patronage: The Catholic Church, Unborn Children, Fathers, Immigrants, Workers, Against Doubt and Hesitation
  • Feast Day: May 1st

Very little is known about St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus.  What we do know comes from Scripture.  We know he was a carpenter and a working man, “Is this not the Carpenter’s son,” Mathew 13:55?  We also know that he wasn’t a rich man, because when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised he offered the sacrifice of the two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, something only allowed for those that could not afford a lamb, Luke 2:24.   We also know that despite his humble work, St. Joseph came from a royal lineage.  Luke and Matthew both point out his descent from David, the greatest King of Israel, Matthew 1:1-16, and Luke 3:23-38.  This was confirmed when the Angel first tells Joseph about Jesus, he was greeted as the “Son of David”. 

At the time he discovered Mary was pregnant, he knew the child was not his, and also worth noting, he did not yet know the child was the Son of God.  This did not stop him from displaying his compassionate character.  He could have divorced her according to the law of the time, but he was concerned for her suffering and safety.  He also knew that women who were accused of adultery could be stoned to death.  He did not want to expose her to the shame or cruelty that would come her way.  As a man of strong faith, St. Joseph was obedient to whatever God asked of him, without question.  When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, he immediately took Mary as his wife.  When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, abandoned his family and friends, and fled to a strange country.  He remained in Egypt until the angel told him it was safe to go back. 

St. Joseph loved Jesus, and proved it in many ways.  He did all in his power to protect Jesus, even settling in Nazareth upon his return for fear of Jesus’ safety.  When Jesus stayed in the Temple, Joseph and Mary searched with great anxiety for three days for him, Luke 2:48.  Luke 4:22, “Is this not the son of Joseph”, proves that St. Joseph treated Jesus like his own son.  It is believed that St. Joseph died before Jesus’ public ministry.  He does not appear in Jesus’ public life, at his death, or at his resurrection.  It is also the belief that Jesus and Mary were at his side when he passed from this life.  This is something that each one of us should desire.  We celebrate two feast days for St. Joseph; March 19th for St. Joseph as the husband of Mary, and May 1st for St. Joseph the Worker.  With all we don’t know about St. Joseph, the one thing that is most important is what Scripture tells us, he was “A Righteous Man”, Matthew 1:18.  

Practical Take Away

St. Joseph has two feast days on the Liturgical Calendar, March 19th as the spouse of Mary, and today, May 1st, as St. Joseph the Worker.  He was a carpenter that worked hard to support Mary and Jesus.  We know that he loved Jesus as his own, and was his foster father.  We also know that Joseph had an unwavering love of God, always obedient to Him, even without knowing the outcome.  It is believed that he died with Jesus and Mary at his side, something that we should all desire.  He was truly a humble servant and foster father to Jesus, and as we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we honor his life of hard work to protect and care for the Holy Family.