March 19th holds a special place in my heart. Pope Francis proclaimed 2021 as the Year of St. Joseph. I was lucky enough to be engaged during that beautiful time; and I saw graces rain down on my marriage from the man called the Pillar of Families.
2021 was not only the year Joshua got his new job (which has led to even more blessings in our lives), the year we found a good home, the year we got married, but it was also the year we conceived our precious Peter.
Our marriage, like any other, has not been without its good times and bad. There has been sickness and health, there has been richer and poorer. Especially as we’ve transitioned from newlyweds to parents, there has been a lot of better and worse.
Through all of that, Joseph has been something of a patron saint of our marriage. He is one of the most famous saints of all time, and a common one for devotion, but the Bible does not even quote him. The Gospels mostly skip over his life, going from Christ’s childhood to adult ministry after Joseph’s death. Much of what we know about him is either part of sacred tradition, or is considered divine legend.
What we do know about Joseph for certain is all we need to know to see him as the perfect role model: he was a chaste, just man, entrusted by God to be the foster father of His son, married to the most perfect and beautiful woman in all creation.
And he was the head of their family.
God could have chosen any way He wanted to bring about the redemption of the world. Jesus chose to become man, to be fully human and fully divine. He chose to be born of a woman, to be raised as a child, to grow into a man, to be the new Adam, instead of just coming to earth like an alien crash landing in a spaceship. God chose to allow Mary to be perfect, to be sinless, to be the new Eve and the new mother of humankind. He made Mary and Jesus mother and son instead of husband and wife, redeeming the world through a perfect bond and love.
Where does Joseph factor in? Why did God feel the need, or even the want, for a lowly carpenter in the equation?
Because the family is the cornerstone of humanity, and God’s perfect design for our lives.
Mary was sinless and perfect. God blessed her with her pregnancy of Jesus. It’s even said she did not suffer labor pains because they were a consequence of sin she was not subjected to. Jesus was a literal perfect child, the son of God, fully human but also fully divine. The two of them could have taken on the world with a legion of angels to protect them. But that’s not how God designed family. He made us for union, for companionship. He made us husbands and wives, fathers and mothers.
Saint Joseph is called the Pillar of Families because he completes the family. He did not impregnate Mary. St. Joseph remained a virgin throughout their marriage. He did not share DNA with Jesus. He is called a “foster father” for a reason. But he was the husband and father of the Holy Family because God placed him in that role. He shows all of us, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, how to love like God: selflessly, completely, expecting nothing in return (not even to be quoted in the Bible).
Saint Joseph never got to have sex with his beautiful wife. He never got to see his son begin his public ministry. St. Joseph lived a quiet life, protecting his family, loving his family, and raising the boy who died on the cross for all of us.
Saint Joseph is who we should all strive to be in our families: normal people, striving after God, living righteously, loving our families.