“Mary said to him, ‘Your father and have been looking for you with great anxiety’” (Luke 2:49).
We celebrate today Joseph’s role in protecting and loving Jesus during his most vulnerable years. He is entrusted with a woman he cannot have and a child who is not his. Joseph provides a name for Jesus, who will be known as the “carpenter’s son” and tribal affiliation with the House of David, his own bloodline. The pulse in his own strong arm holding this mysterious baby is essential to the human identity of the Word made flesh.
The so-called “hidden years” of Jesus’s upbringing must have held a wealth of stories about the intimate relationship between this good man and the man Jesus was to become. We know Joseph in Jesus, the father in the son. Jesus’ parables reveal a knowledge of construction, foundations and hard work, and an eye for selecting good wood for building the church. The disciples were like unseasoned lumber whose strength and flexibility under weight had to be predicted. Joseph’s firm hands and strong back held Jesus on course to finish the job, his own back chafing against the wood of the cross.
Joseph’s eloquence is made greater by his silence. He is a man known by his deeds, in right relationship and integrity with everyone, fair-minded and just. But he was also obedient to dreams in which grace exceeded rules and reputation. Jesus would later be guided by the same expansive vision that would require him to rebuild the temple itself in his own body.
We are blessed to have such a good man as patron and guide for the church.