Here is a Catholic Trivia Question: How many times does Joseph speak in the New Testament?
For the importance Joseph had in raising Jesus, we know very little about him. We know that he was going to be discreet for Mary’s sake and divorce her quietly once she became pregnant during their engagement. He needed the help of a vision from an angel to overcome his fears in taking Mary back into his life. Also, he was just as dumbfounded as Mary when they realized Jesus was still at the temple in Jerusalem. Beyond these events, we can only guess what he is like. The evangelists seem to stress that the most important contribution Joseph gives to the Church are not his words, but his example.
He must have been a dedicated father to Jesus for him to grow in wisdom and age. He helped provide for his family’s material needs. I would not be surprised if Jesus learned how not only to be a carpenter but a fellow human being from watching Joseph at work, at home, in public interacting with others. His life shows to the Church the power of silent acts of self-giving that often do not get written down. God offers us more invitations to serve outside the light of center stage than to be the center of attention. When our service is highlighted, we have to be prayerful in reflecting if our service is highlighted because we have striven for it to be so. Our egos are buffeted through the praise of others, and service becomes more about ourselves than about others. Joseph reminds us of the goodness of quiet, humble service.
Human history, our personal histories too, are full of individuals who are not remembered in its pages but contributed to its progression. During this season of Lent, let us remember how the Lord and the people the Lord has put in our life have loved us in many small and subtle ways. Let us also pray for the gift to contribute likewise to others if it be for God’s greater glory and not our own.
How has the Lord, or people in your life, loved you quietly and in small acts? When, where, or to whom have you been called by God to live like St. Joseph?