I once heard that you can tell a lot about a man by the love in his heart and the work of his hands. And similarly, you can tell a lot about a man by the one that he chooses to spend the rest of his life with. Indeed, St. Joseph was a carpenter who loved to work with his hands! How fitting that God, the Creator of the universe would allow His Son to learn a simple, humble trade. St. Joseph would have worked with such faithfulness, gentleness and obedience that we could say he loved, worked and moved in God’s presence. What is most special about St. Joseph is that he was prompt to obey God’s will for him, no matter the difficult circumstances. Living in poor conditions, not able to find room in the inn, and having to accept the coldness of a stable, the flight into Egypt are all examples of difficult circumstances, however St. Joseph gently accepted God’s holy will knowing that God was with them. The fact that he chose the Immaculate Virgin Mary to be his spouse says a lot about the type of man that St. Joseph was! “How pure then were St. Joseph’s thoughts, always centered on God; how holy his desires and affections, which came from a heart filled with love; how peaceful his eyes which were never disturbed by an unholy object” (Orafferty, Discourses on St. Joseph: For the Month of March, St. Joseph’s Feasts, and Similar Occasions, 46). The humility by which St. Joseph took Mary to be his wife is outstanding! Mary, the all-pure, all spotless Virgin had also seen something remarkably special in St. Joseph…she saw the love in his heart shine through in his faithful response to God.
How does Joseph respond to God? He spent His life doing everything for the glory of God. He was content with doing the ordinary. We can imagine how day after day, Joseph would work with his tools producing work that would provide for his family! St. Joseph is a model for us of someone who worked for God and who constantly lived in the presence of God, for he had the Son of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary living under his roof! We can imagine St. Joseph, with great gentleness and simplicity showing Jesus all the skills in his trade. We learn from St. Joseph that holiness can be achieved in the ordinary. I can imagine that St. Joseph had customers who were not happy with his work. I can imagine that St. Joseph would get bored sometimes. But in all these circumstances of life, I am sure that it made him yearn for heaven more. I am also sure in these circumstances St. Joseph would just look at His little Jesus and say, “this is for you!”
Are we content with the ordinary? Can we see Jesus in the day to day routine of life? Do we see in the ordinary circumstances and duties of life that we are able to become great saints?
It always makes me smile when we read in the Scriptures who the people thought Jesus was. “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Matthew 13:55). What an honor for St. Joseph, to be known as the father of Jesus! That is an amazing reality, that Jesus, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity would humble Himself so much to be known as “the carpenter’s son.” We cannot even begin to fathom the remarkable humility that Jesus had shown working in the carpenter shop and at the same time redeeming us. St. Joseph’s love for Jesus was a reflection of God the Father’s love. Let us pray to St. Joseph to continue to help us love Jesus more everyday…especially in the ordinary duties of the day.
O’Rafferty. Rev Nicholas. Discourses on St. Joseph: For the Month of March, St. Joseph’s Feasts, and Similar Occasions. Bruce Publishing Company: Milwaukee. 1951.