As many know, St. Joseph is one of my favorite Saints. It is no surprise to me that I am now the Campus Minister at the parish in Buffalo that bears his name. St. Joseph’s in Yonkers is the place that I was baptized as well. It’s the people at St. Joseph’s that have continued to remind me of the need for a renewed spirit of trust, to understand that God is always with us and will provide what we really need, not merely what we want.
Joseph is a hidden saint. Joseph has no lines in the gospel but he is a man of action based on reflection.
He finds his betrothed pregnant and instead of stoning her he decided to “divorce her quietly”. Imagine his disappointment! God brings him comfort in a dream and gives him the courage to marry Mary despite that embarrassment and shame that society undoubtedly thrust upon him and Mary.
Many people wonder about the marriage that Joseph and Mary lived together. The church’s traditional teaching is that Mary remained perpetually a virgin and therefore Joseph and Mary lived together as a sexless couple. While many question this as “sentimental religious hooey,” I’d like to think more deeply about this.
For Joseph, who was an “upright man of the law” everything that happens to him is unexpected and had to have stretched his belief that God really wanted what was best for him. Joseph was able to lose his need of certainty and expectation to be led by God’s plan for him, albeit a plan that led him into some suffering and uneasiness. In short, Joseph was able to come to believe that God really was all he would ever need. And with that in mind, perhaps he was able to find great bliss after simply seeing all that God had done for him with Jesus’ birth and youth. For Joseph, God is truly all that he needs.
So when we look at the relationship between Joseph and Mary it is not so unreasonable that perhaps the two never had sexual relations. God will provide all that we need and what God gives us may not be what we expect, but it will be what brings us bliss. Joseph has no lines in scripture simply because he needs not put words to what God has done for him. God has acted and it is more than enough and too much for his words to even try to express.
So today, let us pray to Joseph, the simple Carpenter, who simply rolls with God’s plan for him and finds contentment with all that God provides.