As we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph on 19 March, we remember this great saint, the visible head of the Holy Family, the putative father of Jesus, the Son of God, incarnate. This year has also been declared by Pope Francis as the Jubilee Year of St. Joseph, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as patron of the Universal Church.
Although in Sacred Scripture we do not find a single word from Joseph's mouth, we can know him well by his attitudes. The Gospel calls him a just man, not understanding justice as we do now, but in the sense of an upright, honest and hard-working man, very concerned about fulfilling all the messages received by God in dreams. Thus he desists from his intention of secretly abandoning Mary, his betrothed, when he realises that she is pregnant, but not by him, and so he bears the shame, instead of denouncing her, and formally takes her as his wife. He also heeds the instruction to take his family by night and go to Egypt, to save the child from Herod's persecution. After years abroad, with all the sacrifices this entails, we see him as a good Jewish citizen, fulfilling all the prescribed rites and teaching them also to Jesus, such as the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Nothing is known about when Joseph died. Experts say it must have been shortly before Jesus began his public life, because then we no longer see him accompanying him, nor at the foot of the cross. Jesus entrusts his widowed mother, Mary, to a stranger, the apostle John. This being so, he must have died in the arms of Jesus and Mary. For this reason he is invoked, apart from many other patronages, also as the patron of a good death. May God, when the time comes for us to leave this world, also allow us to do so in the same company as he did. Let us trust in his protection, as the refrain of a song we sing here in Peru says: "By your prayers, O Saint Joseph, a thousand favours I shall obtain".
Sr. Consilia Franz