What Jesus learns from St. Joseph
Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the adopted father of Jesus. As His earthly father, Joseph likely influenced Jesus Christ in many ways. Consider:
- As the Son of God, Jesus “knew and showed forth…everything that pertains to God” (CCC 473).
- But at the same time, Jesus, as the Son of Man, could “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52; CCC 472).
- Joseph, in support of Mary, raised Jesus, till at least the age of 12 years old (Luke 2:39-52). Beyond that, the Gospels do not reveal anything about Joseph.
What might Jesus have learned from Joseph? A lot.
- It is important to remember that of all the men who were ever born, only one was picked to be Jesus’ adopted father on earth: Joseph. God would not select someone “average”. That God chose Joseph reveals that there was something quite extraordinary about Joseph.
- Joseph had a deep devotion to the Mother of God; as the Virgin Mary carried Jesus in her womb, she was in a very real sense, the Temple of God. Joseph, a devout Jew, would have by this fact had great devotion to Mary, for she too was chosen among all women to carry God’s only Son. Jesus would have witnessed this devotion for His mother. As demonstrated through out His public ministry, Jesus always showed respect for women, even during a time when the culture disregarded women.
- Joseph also had an intense love and devotion to Jesus. Perhaps this is where Jesus in part learned about the love of children (realizing that as the Son of God, Jesus loved all creation).
- Joseph was an brave man, full of courage: when Herod sought to kill Jesus, Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt, a long and harrowing trip requiring stamina and courage. Jesus, though young, witnessed this.
- Joseph was resourceful: he took the family to Egypt and was able to support the family in a foreign country using his skills as a carpenter/builder.
- Joseph was protective; he sought to protect Mary by divorcing her quietly, prior to his encounter with God in a dream. Mary, as a young unmarried mother would have perhaps faced stoning, but Joseph marries her. In Sunday’s Gospel, we see perhaps the fruit of Joseph’s protection of women when Jesus forgives the woman caught in adultery.
- Joseph raised Jesus (again, with Mary), with a deep devotion to the Jewish religion and to God, perhaps teaching Jesus scripture. Jesus was circumcised (Luke 2:21) and attended the annual Passover feasts in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41); it seems likely that the Holy Family attended other Jewish religious feasts as well. Jesus’ human knowledge of Jewish Scripture and customs in some part refer back to Joseph.
- Joseph taught Jesus the trade of carpentry and the value of hard work; this manual labor toughened Jesus to the point where He was able to lead a rigorous life during the three years of His public ministry.
There are many other ways in which Joseph influenced his adopted Son, Jesus. Let us thank God for St. Joseph!