Feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary

Imagine the discernment and faith St. Joseph required to believe the angel who told him to remain with the pregnant girl who claimed to be a virgin! Imagine the agony of a husband, forced by order of a foreign invader to take his pregnant wife on a long and difficult journey -- only to be unable to find a room for her as she went into labor! Imagine his wonder, holding his son according the law, yet also the Son of God, and pondering the mysteries unfolding before him. Imagine the anxiety of fleeing with this young Son and his new bride to a strange land, balancing the uncertainties of each day with the immutable promises of the Lord.

St. Joseph is the second greatest saint in the Catholic Church, after his wife Mary. For me, he is the model of husband, a father and an adorer of the Holy Eucharist. Joseph as husband and father are understandable models, but adorer of the Holy Eucharist? Tradition holds that Joseph died before Jesus began His public ministry, long before He gave His disciples the first Eucharist at the Last Supper. What did Joseph know of Jesus truly present under the form of bread and wine?

What Joseph knew of was Jesus truly present under the form of a helpless infant, a toddler, a boy. We don't know for certain how much Joseph knew or understood about the mission of the Incarnation, but he knew that his son was, somehow, God's Son, and that God's promises to Israel would be fulfilled through Him. As a devout Jew in the line of King David, Joseph knew the messianic promises of the Prophets, and he knew the prophecy of the angel to Mary: "You shall conceive and bring forth a son, and name him Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High. The Lord God shall give to him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. Of his kingdom there shall be no end."

Such a great promise! Such a tiny baby! Such faith, to accept them both. In doing so, Joseph was a sign of those to come, Christians through the centuries who have looked and seen bread and wine, yet accepted the presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the form of an infant as in the form of bread, Jesus emptied Himself of His majesty, took on the humblest and commonest of cloaks to conceal His glory, and gave the grace to the humble and faithful to approach, believe, and adore.


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