It is easy to over look the role that Joseph had in the life of Jesus. As his father through the years of Jesus’ childhood, Joseph would have been a formative role model at the very least. Role models are an important part of the development of any child. Yes, women can serve as role models for men but only up to a point. I do not think that there are many, if any, who will dispute the necessity of male role models for boys and women for girls. There are some aspects of being men that can only be taught by men and the same is true for women.

Thus, it is not in doubt that Joseph had an important role to play in Jesus’ formation. The Church honours St Joseph not just as a worker but as a good role model for fathers as well. As we reflect upon his life, of which we know very little, it is important to remember that place that the grace of God had in Joseph’s life. If we recall from the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, Joseph had a number of dreams in which he was visited by an angel and received instructions from the Lord. (1:20ff & 2:13ff) We see from these examples that obedience played a primary part in the life of Joseph. If we learn nothing else, let us take this lesson away from these reflections.

Joseph was a man of commitment to mercy and truth. He desired to divorce Mary informally at first, as he did not want her to come to harm after she became pregnant with Jesus. However, after hearing God tell him to take Mary as his wife, Joseph does so despite the social stigma attached to marrying a woman who is pregnant with another man’s child! Perhaps this is a reason for the birth of Jesus in a stable rather than an inn or the house of a relative. Surely Joseph would have had relatives in Bethlehem if that were his family’s ancestral town? If so, why did they not allow him and Mary to stay with them at the time of the census?

How attentive am I to the voice of God and His direction when I come to Him in prayer? Joseph hears God in dreams! How much more should we be able to hear his voice when we pray?

Father in heaven, whatever you ask us to do with our lives, we can be sure that you will give us the means to accomplish it. Thank you for your faithfulness; help me to become more worthy of your blessings.