We have Jeff Young, of Catholic Foodie fame, to thank for this lovely reflection on St. Joseph, in honor of his feast day today. Thanks, Jeff!
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
and abides in the shade of the Almighty
says to the Lord: ‘My refuge,
my stronghold, my God in whom I trust!’” (Psalm 91)
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary.
Husband of Mary. Have you ever thought about that? I mean really thought about that?
There are two “familiar” titles of St. Joseph: Husband of Mary and Foster-Father of Jesus. They are “familiar” because they are commonly known. But they are also “familiar” because they have to do with family.
St. Joseph was a family man. He was a real husband. He was a real father. And the Holy Family was a real family.
We call St. Joseph the Foster-Father of Jesus in order to emphasize the fact that Jesus was conceived miraculously. God alone is His Father. But, according to the Law, Joseph was Jesus’ father. Even though Joseph was not the biological father, he claimed Jesus as his own. All the world, at that time, knew Joseph as the father of Jesus.
Why is this important?
In the daily life of the Holy Family, Joseph was a dad to Jesus. He did all the things that dads do. He talked with Jesus, he cared for Jesus, provided for him and Mary. He taught Jesus a trade. Carpentry. They practiced their religion together… faithfully.
As the scriptures say, Joseph was a just man.
The fact that Joseph was a just man leads us to another of the great titles of Joseph that we find in the Litany of St. Joseph: Terror of Demons. Wow! Joseph is the Terror of Demons!
How is it that a man who has dreams of angels, who speaks not one word in the gospels, and who seems so meek and lowly… how can he be the Terror of Demons?
Because he was a just man. Scripture says that “The just man overcomes every misfortune which oppresses him” (Proverbs 24:5). It also says that “The just man appraises the house of the wicked: there is one who brings down the wicked to ruin” (Proverbs 21:12).
Joseph was… No, Joseph IS a just man.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the just man runs to it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). It is the Lord Himself who overcomes the enemy. The Lord works through the just. It is the Lord who scatters His enemies. In Joseph we see Psalm 91 in action. We started out this reflection with a quote from Psalm 91. Here’s where it resumes:
“It is he who will free you from the snare
of the fowler who seeks to destroy you;
he will conceal you with his pinions
and under his wings you will find refuge….”
We would do well to reflect upon Psalm 91 today as we celebrate the Solemnity of Joseph, Husband of Mary. He is the one who protected the Holy Family. He saved Mary from the consequences of the Law. He saved Mary from shame by taking her as his wife. He led his family to safety in Egypt. He brought them back to Nazareth. He provided food and shelter for them. He fathered the Son of God.
In 1847, Pope Pius IX proclaimed Joseph the Patron and Protector of the Universal Church.
Today, I proclaim St. Joseph as the Patron and Protector of my Domestic Church, my family.
St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, Foster-Father of Jesus, Terror of Demons, pray for us!