I intended to post this yesterday but the copy I e-mailed from a remote location disappeared.
Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, a particularly interesting individual.
Not a lot of factual information is available about Joseph given the significant role he played. Most believe he was a carpenter while a few think he was actually a stone mason. In either case, he was a trained craftsman who worked with his hands. He was betrothed but not yet married to Mary and when she became pregnant, he did not wish her exposed to scandal, so he decided to quietly divorce her. He changed his mind when an angel intervened and explained Divine Incarnation. I guess for most of us it would take a personal visit by the Archangel Gabriel if we were the one affected so up close and personal.
The Bible tells us that after Jesus birth he took the family to Egypt until Herod the Great died and no longer was a threat to Jesus. The last we hear of him is when the family travels to the Temple in Jerusalem and Jesus becomes separated from them. Mary and Joseph each believe Jesus is with the other (men and women tended to travel separately, or at least congregate so.) Jesus is found back at the Temple, in His Father’s house.
There’s a debate as to whether or not Mary and Joseph had any more children together. The official teaching of the Catholic Church is that Mary remained a virgin. The “brothers and sisters” of Jesus are explained as Joseph’s children from a previous marriage and that Joseph was a widower or else they are extended family such as cousins. The Bible specifically states that Mary and Joseph had no relations until after the baby (Jesus) was born. And of course there is the matter of Jesus brother James being an important leader in the early church. However, I’ll let the learned theologians debate this issue. I figure that it is as important as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin when it comes to matters that affect our Christian lifestyle.
In any case, I do believe that Joseph had a tremendously important role. As the Son of God, Jesus already had a Father. However, Joseph was his Daddy.
Joseph was the one who taught Jesus about life taught him the family trade. Obviously Joseph saw to his religious education, since we know he took the family to the Temple for the presentation/circumcision as well as when Jesus was older. It is reasonable to surmise that Joseph Someone saw to it that Jesus was properly brought up in the Jewish faith with all its cultural and philosophical implications. It is reasonable to surmise that this was Joseph.
As his Daddy, Joseph probably had a hand in explaining life from Jesus first “What’s that?” through the endless asking of “Why” and all the other questions a Daddy answers. Likewise, I suspect that when Jesus broke something, Joseph did the appropriate Daddy duty of repairing it. Through all of this, I also suspect that Joseph taught Jesus how to be a man. After all, he already knew how to be God, but like any child he needed to learn what was expected of a person. What to say; what not to say; how to act.
In the Cosmic sense, these acts don’t bear documentation in the Bible. However, I tend to believe that even if it wasn’t important to the chroniclers, it was important to Jesus the toddler, Jesus the adolescent and even Jesus the young adult. I suspect that how Jesus interacted with his followers, especially the Apostles was due in part to what Joseph had taught him.
Finally, I suspect that God as Father and Joseph as Daddy resulted in a beautiful complementary arrangement. It also is a wonderful example. Our children and ourselves are all God’s children and he is our Father. However, some of us are blessed to fill in for God and be a Daddy to those children with whom he’s blessed us.