Born: First century BC
FEast: Dec. 27th
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 married 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.