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St. Joseph: man of faith

The pains and joys of St. Joseph show the immense faith that St. Joseph had and how through them he knew how to identify himself with the will of God.

Alejandro Vázquez-Dodero-March 18, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes
saint joseph man of faith

Photo: ©Museo Nacional del Prado

During these months we have considered various facets of the saint to whom we are dedicating this 2021, a man, first and foremost, of faith. A soul who experienced a series of pains and joys - which give name to that pious tradition of considering them as a whole - and who through them knew how to identify with the will of God for him. Thus he knew, in short, how to exercise his faith.

As stated in the apostolic letter Patris CordeEven through Joseph's anguish, God's will, his story, his plan, passes through. Thus Joseph teaches us that having faith in God also includes believing that He can act even through our fears, our frailties, our weaknesses".

Sorrows and joys of St. Joseph

These anxieties or pains, however, would be rewarded with joys or joys, because God's love always rewards and recognizes the attitude of the soul that, in the exercise of the faith received, abandons itself and trusts in Him.

We now move on to comment on the sorrows and joys of the holy patriarch, an effective demonstration of the faith that accompanied him in his life here on earth. 

First pain and joy

First pain (Mt 1:18): When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they lived together she was found to have conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. // First joy (Mt 1:20-21): The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

Before they lived together it happened that Mary was left in a state. This provoked the pain of a man who, thanks to his faith in God's will and good deeds, although distressed, abandoned himself to the will of the One who designed the coming into the world of Jesus in this way. A mysterious and humanly inexplicable way in the eyes of the legal spouse of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph.

Second pain and joy

Second sorrow (Jn 1:11): He came to his own, and his own did not receive him.. // Second joy (Lk 2:16): They went in haste and found Mary, Joseph and the infant reclining in the manger..

Joseph - and of course Mary as well - would be hurt by the rejection that Jesus experienced, for many of his contemporaries would not accept his message of salvation, they would ignore him. Yet he would trust that this son of his was, no more and no less, the Savior promised by the Lord. The joy and serenity of seeing him already born and ready to fulfill his redemptive mission were immense.

Third pain and joy

Third pain (Lk 2:21): And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcising him, they called his name Jesus, as the angel had called him before he was conceived in the womb. // Third joy (Mt 1:21): She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins..

That Jewish rite, that of circumcision, to which the Child wanted to submit - it was not necessary for a God to submit to that human law - would mean for his parents the pain of those who love and see the loved one suffer. But faith in God's will overcame that anguish through his trusting acceptance.

Fourth pain and joy

Fourth sorrow (Lk 2:34-35): Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this is a sign of contradiction, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.. // Fourth joy (Lk 2:30-31): For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared for all people, a light to enlighten the nations..

Joseph would be distressed by the fact that his wife would suffer because Jesus preached a message rejected by so many. Yet his faith would lead him to support Mary and always be at her side, because he knew that this was what God was asking of him.

Fifth pain and joy

Fifth sorrow (Mt 2:13): The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said to him, "Arise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to seek the child to kill him".. // Fifth joy (Mt 2:15): And he was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which is spoken by the Lord through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son.".

Both the thought that the authorities wanted to kill his son, and the fact that they had to flee to unknown lands to avoid it, would mean for St. Joseph an intense pain difficult to imagine. But again, thanks to that faith that he brought out in the face of any setback, he would know how to face such suffering. And all because he knew how to identify himself with the will of God.

Sixth pain and joy

Sixth sorrow (Mt 2:21-22): He arose, took the child and his mother and returned to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.. // Sixth joy (Mt 2:23): And he went to live in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene..

Again the pain of knowing that he was persecuted. Or rather, the fact of having to watch over one who -Jesus- was unjustly persecuted. And in this distressing situation we find a St. Joseph who was constantly listening to what God wanted for him. And he wanted them to settle in Nazareth, returning to that land of his, to develop their life there as one more family among many.

Seventh pain and joy

Seventh sorrow (Lk 2:44-45): They sought him among their kinsmen and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem in search of him.. // Seventh joy (Lk 2:46): At the end of three days they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, listening to them and asking them questions..

Losing Jesus, still a minor and without the human resources to manage on his own, would mean a very acute pain for his parents. And St. Joseph, with a very sensitive heart because of how much he loved his son, would be plunged into a pain that would not cease until he found the Child in the temple.

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