What is extraordinary about St. Joseph? | University of Portland

What is extraordinary about St. Joseph?

You only get a vague image of this extraordinary person in the New Testament. This unusual man, Joseph, believes in the Incarnation, God becoming human, long before any theologian taught about this. He trusts that something special is happening in Mary, his betrothed, becoming pregnant with Jesus. As you read further in the Gospel account, there is a story of Joseph seen as a man who perceives God’s communication to him through dreams. Thus, believing in one of those dreams, he takes Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod, the king who seeks to put Jesus to death. However, in terms of a real description of Joseph’s virtue, the Scriptures leave us one central word. Joseph is spoken of as a “just man.”

A classical definition of the word “just” is to give to all what is due them. Therefore, you can imagine Joseph being a carpenter who worked hard to provide a good service and asked reasonable recompense. Where else did he offer what was due? One possibility is that he treated his foster son and Mary his wife as sacred people. This is based on the fact that Joseph’s life was filled with a great deal of hallowed mystery. God had asked him to live in mystery and to be a husband and father of faith. He fulfilled that role of “protector of the sacred” by giving Mary and Jesus what was just, everything that was due to them.

Perhaps our call to justice involves our treatment of others ahead of anything else. Ask yourself, “Are all the people in my life being given what is due to them while treating them as part of a sacred mystery?”