Undoubtably, the news that his intended bride was pregnant came as a shock to Joseph. But as Matthew says in his Gospel, Joseph was “just” man.
Instead of his wounded pride or dignity, Joseph first thought was to save Mary from public shame or, worse still, from the stoning to which she risked being condemned. He did not want to repudiate her publicly but intended to divorce her informally and in secret.
At that moment of understandable anguish and suffering, the love of God communicated with Joseph through an angel. The angel inspired Joseph to overcome fear when he said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name Him Jesus.”
Joseph took Mary as his bride and when, after the birth of Jesus, the angel returned to warn him that Herod wanted to kill the child, he escaped with his family to Egypt, a foreign country, where he had to get a new job and start all over again.
We know that he worked as a craftsman because, when the skeptical inhabitants of Nazareth questioned Jesus’ origins, they asked: “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” When the angel appeared to him again to tell him that Herod had died and he should return to the land of Israel, Joseph took his wife and son and sought refuge in the town of Nazareth, in Galilee, simply because the angel told him to.
Joseph certainly loved Jesus with all the tenderness that a father felt for his own son. Moreover, he protected and educated this mysterious and wise child who was entrusted to his care. Educating Jesus must have been an immensely challenging task: imagine telling the Son of God what is right and what is not.
Protecting Him must have been equally difficult. After searching for Him anxiously for three days (while Jesus remained behind in the temple discussing with the doctors of the law), Joseph had to hear a 12-year-old boy tell him: “Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?” Perhaps Joseph felt like every other father who, sooner or later, has to accept the fact that his child really does not belong to him—but to God alone, who holds that child’s destiny in His hands.
Joseph does not appear in any of the four Gospels that recount the public life of Jesus, nor at His crucifixion on Calvary, nor at the Resurrection. It is fair to presume, therefore, that he died before Jesus began his preaching.
According to tradition, Joseph died with Mary and Jesus by his side—which is why he is also invoked as the Protector of the Dying. It is the wish of every one of us to leave our earthly home in the company of Jesus and His Mother.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini from: St. Joseph, Groom of B. Mary – Information on the – Vatican News. (n.d.). Vatican News. Retrieved March 9, 2021, from https://www.vaticannews.va/en/saints/03/19/st–joseph–groom-of-b–mary–patron-of-the-univeral-church.html