The Silent Carpenter: Saint Joseph (Father’s Day Special!)

If I ever get married and have a son, expect the name “Joseph” to be somewhere in his name (it’ll most likely be his middle name).  I really love the name Joseph, and I also love the most famous bearer of this name.  I’m talking about Saint Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and Jesus’ foster father.

Guido_Reni_-_Saint_Joseph_and_the_Christ_Child_-_Google_Art_Project
An epic picture of a sturdy carpenter and gentle father.

Doing research on Saint Joseph the Carpenter is really difficult because the information on him is minimal (there was no such thing as a “digital footprint” in his day).  We do know that he was a carpenter in Nazareth.  His reputation among the locals was that he was a just man.  Humble and mild-mannered, he did his woodwork to make ends meet, got along with everybody, and then went home at the end of the day.

His quiet life changed when he asked for the hand of Ann and Joachim’s daughter, Mary.  His reputation as a gentleman and hard worker sat well with Ann and Joachim.  As for Mary, she knew of Joseph and was drawn to his genuine nature. Like Prince Kit in Cinderella (2015), Joseph wanted to marry for love, not for riches or personal gain.  Hence they were betrothed.

Joseph’s simple life was shaken when his now-fiancee Mary told him that the Archangel Gabriel had visited her and told her she would bear the Son of God (do I even need to say who it is?)  Naturally Joseph was troubled and even upset.  Let’s be honest: Even the most religious person would have a hard time believing that a woman conceived a child without having sex.

Now in their time, to be pregnant and unmarried (being engaged didn’t help) was a death sentence.  The entire village could corner her and stone her, killing both her and the unborn baby.  Joseph knew this and sought to divorce her quietly.  That was, until an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him to take Mary as his wife.  Upon waking up, Joseph knew what he had been called to do.

To protect Mary, they married quickly so that everyone would assume the child was his.  They traveled to Bethlehem, where Mary gave birth to Jesus.  That same night, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, and [paraphrasing] said, “You need to get Mary and the baby out of here.”  Sure enough, King Herod had ordered that every male infant be slaughtered so that he would not be overthrown by “the New King.”  This is called the Slaughtering of the Innocents.  Without hesitation, Joseph woke Mary and got his family out of Bethelem to safer regions.

You may have noticed that Joseph has no lines in this play.  That’s because he doesn’t talk in the Bible.  His character is revealed through his actions; his choice to protect Mary from social persecution, his willingness to obey God’s command to leave Bethelem just hours after Mary gave birth, and his devotion to his wife and child.  Saint Joseph is the epitomy of the phrase, “actions speak louder than words.”

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

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