“O Holy Family—the Family so closely united to the mystery which
we contemplate on the day of the Lord’s Birth—guide with your example
the families of the whole earth!”
Pope St. John Paul II
(Bartolome Esteban Murillo / circa 1660 / Hermitage Museum)
Joseph, the man tapped by God to be the earthly father of Jesus,
is more or less an enigma…just as he remains an enigma in
As a preteen, after Jesus was lost from the family’s caravan having hung back in Jerusalem to
visit the Temple following the family’s pilgrimage for the festival of the Passover,
we simply don’t hear /read much more regarding Joseph or of his presence in the boy Jesus’s life.
By the next time we hear about Jesus, he is a grown man who has a predestined meeting
with John the Baptist for baptism.
It is simply assumed that Joseph must have died, leaving Mary a widow.
And oddly, throughout the ages, artists have more or less depicted Joseph as an older man…
as we know that Mary was a young woman when she was engaged to Joseph.
Perhaps that has been the rationale…Joseph was older and therefore passed
away when Jesus was just an adolescent.
But I wonder…was he really that much older than Mary?
There seems to be more questions about the man Joseph than there are answers.
And perhaps that is all part of the Holy mystery that embraces our lives.
But the one thing I know…
the most important thing that we do know, is that Joseph had to be
quite the man to be chosen by God the Creator to be the earthly father to God’s only son.
The example of a man as to what a father is meant to be…
the type of man that our sons and daughters so desperately yearn for in their lives.
Our children, now more than ever, need their fathers.
Joseph reminds us of this.
“Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed, which alone maketh light
all that is burdensome and equally bears all that is unequal.
For it carries a burden without being burdened and makes all that which
is bitter…sweet and savory.
The love of Jesus is noble and generous; it spurs us on to do great things
and excites us to desire always that which is most perfect.”
Thomas à Kempis, p. 87
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ