St. Joseph: Partner with God

by Archbishop Donald Wuerl

When the angel comes to him in a dream and says to him that he is to take Mary as his wife, Joseph never hesitates (Mt 1:24).When he has to set out with very little provision to Bethlehem where the child will be born, he does so unflinchingly and without complaint (Lk 2:4). And when God tells him to flee with the child for safety, his response is total and complete (Mt 2:13-14). Little is said of St. Joseph in the New Testament but what does come through is the “just man” of great faith.

Joseph’s role in salvation history is linked by marriage to Mary. The pope tells us that this marriage is the “juridical basis of his fatherhood.” While Joseph was not the natural father of Jesus, he was spouse of the Blessed Mother and therefore, in that capacity, he assumed responsibility for the child Jesus and for Jesus’ mother.

The pope refers to “the service of fatherhood” and holds up Mary’s marriage to Joseph and their relationship to each other as the starting point for our understanding of Joseph’s relationship to Jesus. “The Son of Mary is also Joseph’s Son by virtue of the marriage bond that unites them” (7).

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., has written numerous books of the Catholic faith. This article was excerpted from the June 2002 issue of Columbia, the monthly magazine of the Knights of Columbus.

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