I'm sure nearly all of us are familiar with St. Joseph – spouse of Mary, foster-father to Jesus, carpenter, and patron saint of workers. But what you may not have known that in the Church’s liturgical calendar, the entire month of March is dedicated in his honor.
Perhaps you know the story of the angel coming to Joseph in a dream and telling him not to be afraid to take pregnant-by-the-spirit Mary into his home or of Joseph making the journey with Mary (riding on a donkey) into Bethlehem for the required enrollment; you might also recall him faithfully guiding his little family of Mary and baby Jesus from the clutches of Herod into Egypt shortly after Jesus is born.
When it comes to the person of Joseph, he is almost also in the background.
When it comes to actual speech, we have no words attributed to him in the Bible. Instead, more fittingly, we have his example. Joseph was a man of action. In Mathew 1, we are told “And Joseph, being a righteous man, did not want to expose her [Mary] to disgrace,” and also: “Joseph awoke from his dream and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”
Joseph is continually in the background, carrying out his days as the silent protector of the mother of the church and the redeemer of the world. He carries out, time and again, God’s call to look out for the dignity of Mary when she is unexpectedly pregnant, shepherd and guard her to Bethlehem, and protect both her and Jesus from persecution and hate. Joseph does not discriminate or complain, but shoulders the tasks before him, thus fittingly the patron saint of all workers.
Last year, in 2021, the entire year was dedicated to St. Joseph, at Pope Francis’
request. And in fact, my husband Nathan and I were married on the Solemnity of St. Joseph celebrated each year on March 19th. Thus, St. Joseph holds a special place in my heart and in my life as an example to me of what it looks like to work hard without desiring accolades or acknowledgment, and to give my best labors and first fruits.
St. Joseph is also the patron saint of the universal church and of a happy death. His example of always looking to do the next best thing can be a motivation to each of us, regardless of our background, upbringing, or place in the world. As well, each Wednesday is also dedicated to St. Joseph. Thus, on that day of the week when we might be tempted to feel most sluggish, we can be reminded of the faithfulness, honesty, and integrity of St. Joseph.
St. Joseph lived a simple, un-assuming life determined to care for all those who were entrusted to him, and his humble example of virtue invites us to live the same.