St. Joseph: Ideal Father and Husband, Sanctifier of Work (Lenten Scriptural Commentary #14)
by Erik Ritland
"God chose St. Joseph for the most important job in history: to raise His son and to care for Mary. Thus, he is the ideal father, the ideal husband. His position as a carpenter, an ordinary trade, sanctified work."
Fully Alive’s Lenten Scriptural Commentary helps Christians get more out of Lent by taking God’s word seriously.
Mostly avoiding personal stories and anecdotes, our commentary dives deeply into the scripture readings for each day and applies them to the broader context of Lent. We use the daily Mass readings from the Catholic lectionary.
If possible, read each passage slowly, taking in each word. If you find that you’ve hurried through a reading, read it over a few more times. Let the words reverberate in your heart. After you’ve let it sink in, read our Lenten Scriptural Commentary.
Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Joseph’s life as earthly father to Jesus and spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary isn’t given much detail in scripture, but his significance as those two things make him one of the most important men in history. He is the ideal father and spouse. We are still blessed today by his prayers.
Readings: 2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16/Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22/Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Click here to read the complete text from the USCCB website
The LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
"Go, tell my servant David,
'When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
(cf 2 SM 7: 4-5a, 12-14a, 16)
In the words of popular Catholic apologist Scott Hahn, we have a God who keeps His promises. Things looked grim at many points during the history of Israel. Wars, exile, and occupation by foreign invaders were just some of the trials that they dealt with. There was often reason for despair.
God promised them, though, that He would save them in an ultimate way. In this reading, he tells of the Kingdom that He will set up on earth through the line of David. He followed through on this problem in Jesus, son of Joseph, son of David.
Although not physically descended from him, Jesus’ formation as human being was as the son of Joseph. Jesus’ upbringing, His very human person, was formed by him.
Is there a more important man in the history of the world?
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
(cf Rom 4: 13, 16-18, 22)
The question of adherence to the Old Testament law was hotly debated in the early Church. Since the entire earliest Church was Jewish, and its message was first preached to Jews, it was logical that those who became Christians would want to keep Jewish practices. The problem came when they insisted that Gentile converts should do so as well.
St. Paul is adamantly against this in many of his writings. Many incorrectly conflate this with the question of “faith and works.” It is not about faith and works; it is about whether Christians need to follow the Old Testament law to be saved. Context makes this clear over and over again in the New Testament.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly
(cf Mt 1: 16, 18-21, 24a)
"Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man” – Catholic Saints and teachers have gotten much mileage out of this line, and rightly so. God chose him for the most important job in history: to raise His son and to care for Mary. Thus, he is the ideal father, the ideal husband. His position as a carpenter, an ordinary trade, sanctified work.
We have much to thank St. Joseph for.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. The founder of Fully Alive Christian Media, he also created The Minnesota Sport Ramble and is a writer and copy editor for Music in Minnesota. He was Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
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Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.