During this Year of St. Joseph, especially during this month of March dedicated to him, I want to share a few reflections that I have picked up on St. Joseph over the course of the next few days leading up to his feast day. Here are some of my thoughts on the fatherhood of St. Joseph.
No one is Father as God is father. So says the Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 239. But he is the origin and standard of fatherhood: as St. Paul points out in Ephesians 3:15.
“Our heavenly Father has had only one seat to represent him on earth. Hence he restored everything he could on that favored saint, and equipped him with all that he needed to be his worthy representative.”
– St. Peter Julian Eymard
St. Joseph had the unique privilege of sharing in God’s own fatherhood like no one else. This was a special grace given to him in order to worthily represent God the Father. St. Joseph received this because he was the earthly father of Jesus. Sometimes, he is referred to as the “foster father of Jesus,” which sounds like it could downplay his great role as the head of the holy family so as not to infringe on God’s own paternity. But as Father Donald Calloway points out, he was always referred to as the father of Jesus – – not as the “foster father” of Jesus.
Why did Jesus even need the fatherhood of St. Joseph? Simply because, Jesus, having a human nature, required a human father to do what fathers do for their children: to love, feed, educate and protect. Jesus emulated St. Joseph and worked in his footsteps. And because St. Joseph was chosen to be father of Jesus, he is our spiritual father – – if indeed we are in Christ and are counted among his very Members. We need his example, we need to see what it is to be a father – – what it is to reflect God the Father, in this day and age when fatherhood and masculinity are so denigrated in society and culture.
St. Joseph, pray for us!