Born: First century BC
FEast: March 19th
fathers, workers, carpenters,
travelers, immigrants, refugees, moving house
Very little is known about St. Joseph, with some historians doubting his presence at all due to his never being mentioned in the Gospels of Mark or John. Matthew and Luke, however, both include him, and so we can guess that Jesus' adoptive father, whether he was young or old, whether he was named Joseph, and whether he was a carpenter or not, was important in Jesus' early life.
We do know that this man was likely a descendant of King David, despite his genealogies differing completely in the two Gospels. We know he was engaged to Mary. Some theories say that he was elderly at that time and had other children from his previous marriage, who are referred to as Jesus' brothers and sisters in the Gospels. Catholic tradition holds, however, that he did not and that he and Mary did not have any children after Jesus was born, either. When he had found out about Mary's pregnancy, Joseph had wanted to quietly let her go so that she wouldn't be publicly shamed or tortured. He did not realize she had actually been faithful to him and that the child was from God until an angel told him, and told him not to be afraid of the miraculous, unexplainable circumstance. He listened, and stayed with Mary.
We also know that Joseph likely did not have much money, since he took a dove offering to the temple after Jesus was born, which was only allowed if the family could not afford to bring a lamb.
Then, when the angel returned to him in a dream and warned him to flee with his family (due to Herod's jealous decree to murder all newborns after he heard a new king had been born), Joseph obeyed. Though his family became refugees in Egypt, he must have continued to care for them until they could return. He left everyone and everything he had ever known to take them there, risking their lives to escape and bringing probably little to nothing with them.
Upon returning, the family settled in Nazareth, and we know now historically that the town was very small (perhaps a population of 400 at most) and likely did not provide many opportunities. Joseph made that sacrifice, working either as a local repairman and carpenter or walking to a larger nearby town each day for work, to protect his family's safety. He also took his family to Jerusalem for Passover every year - which would certainly have been another large sacrifice for him.
The last mention of him in writing is when Jesus, around age 12, disappears from his parents and they search for him for 3 days until they find him in the temple. Because only Mary is mentioned after this and because Joseph does not perform typical duties of a father after Jesus' crucifixion, it is likely that he passed away before Jesus began his public ministry.
As a model of a good father, please be with all dads. Be with them as they choose continuously to be a part of their families’ lives. Be with them as they role model honesty, respect, and love. Be with them as they work on themselves for love of their kids and everyone they will affect in the future.
Its a bit cheesy, but Joseph's T-shirt is for the band "The carpenters", not only as a pretty good "dad joke" having to do with his profession, but also because I imagine him to be the type of dad to like older songs, whether or not he was actually older in age. His flannel is indicative of his workshop wear, and his expression is one of both confusion, resignation, and maybe a little pain. This is because we know he wasn't around for long in Jesus' life, but we also know that he pushed beyond his confusion, embarrassment, and likely, his common sense, in accepting Jesus as his adopted son.
Born: First century BC
FEast: May 1st
In 1955, Pope Pius XII declared a feast to St. Joseph the Worker. It is meant to celebrate the dignity of work, and compare human creative work to the Creation of God. We are commanded in scripture to both care for the earth and be productive, and labor fulfills both missions. Pope John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens also says “the Church considers it her task always to call attention to the dignity and rights of those who work, to condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated, and to help to guide [social] changes so as to ensure authentic progress by man and society.” Joseph, as a carpenter, is one great example of a saint who does this, especially since he also taught his skills to Jesus.
May you always remind us of the dignity of work. May we never take our work for granted, but at the same time guide us in our decisions about our work, especially when it comes to our dignity. May we be blessed with work that fulfills us, and may we do our jobs to the best of our ability. May we always remember for whom and for what we work.
the words “work” and “worker” bring to mind such a drastic range in ideas for most people, from a 9-5 office job with workers in stuffy suits, to manual labor. I wanted this image of Joseph to be able to fit into both worlds, and each type in between. The dignity of work is one of the Catholic social teachings - and what better way to express that than by showing one of the most revered saints working. Many times we don’t picture saints doing much more than sitting around in prayer and writing, which, though necessary, is not relatable for the majority of us. Joseph is pictured here with tools and a computer, ready to either design a new building in 3d software, or to measure out, cut, and sand some wood finishes himself. In addition, this piece was commissioned for the group Young Catholic Professionals, which has its logo on his laptop.