By Joseph Sinasac, Publishing Director
It’s hard to believe a man who said nothing could have such a huge impact on the world. The life of St. Joseph truly confirms the truth of the adage: “Actions speak louder than words.”
In much of the world, we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, on March 19, falling on Sunday this year. It is a day largely overshadowed by the raucous festivities of St. Patrick’s Day two days before. Not to belittle the feats of the Irish saint, but the legacy of St. Joseph looms somewhat larger.
Joseph was tasked with ensuring the security, safety and upbringing of Jesus, as well as the support of Mary, the mother of Jesus and Joseph’s wife. He gets only a bit part in scripture, not appearing at all in Mark’s Gospel. But his lineage is that of the royal House of David. And, though none of his words are recorded in scripture, he was privileged to communicate with God’s messengers, sent to him in dreams, with specific instructions on how to manage his relationship with Mary and keep the family safe.
Joseph’s virtues lie in his courage and fidelity to God. He does not question God’s request to stick with Mary, though her mysterious pregnancy would be enough to give him good reason to send her packing. Nor does he question the need to take his family to Egypt to escape certain death at the hands of the soldiers of Herod. He is truly the Lord’s faithful servant.
Today, Joseph is venerated in cultures around the world. He is the patron of Canada and St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal is both the most visited shrine to his name and the largest church in Canada.
Joseph is also the patron of workers, as he himself made his living as a carpenter. Less known is the fact that he is also the patron of travellers and immigrants. During this pontificate of Francis, he is a perfect model for Catholics today — a man with “the smell of the sheep” on him, close to the meek and humble, willing to serve without being in the limelight, quietly doing what is right without recognition.
At a time when immigrants — the strangers in our midst — are feared and met with constant suspicion, we should turn in our prayers to Joseph for strength, courage and openness of heart.