During His time on earth, Jesus spent more time with St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother than anyone else. And yet, for someone who knew Jesus so well (and to whom Jesus Himself was obedient!) St. Joseph is usually relegated to a side character in our nativity scenes.
But recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ explained how essential Joseph was in God’s plan of salvation, and how we actually have a lot in common with the foster-father of Jesus. He said:
“What really struck me and was really a turning point in my devotion to St. Joseph was reading what Pope Leo XIII wrote about him. He published a document called Quamquam Pluries and he was the one who named St. Joseph the patron of the universal church – the patron of the Catholic Church and of each one of us, of every single Catholic.
And what was his reasoning? He said that you can learn about St. Joseph by looking at Joseph of Egypt in the Old Testament. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, he started working for Pharaoh, and he became the steward of all Pharaoh’s possessions. He was the right-hand man of Pharaoh. Everything that Pharaoh had was entrusted to Joseph.
Leo XIII said that God entrusted everything He had, the best that He had, to St. Joseph. Because the best that He had was His own Son, Jesus. The best part of Creation that He had was the Blessed Mother. Everything that He had He entrusted to the care of St. Joseph. When you look at that, you recognize how important St. Joseph is, how essential St. Joseph is, in the plan of salvation.
I think you and I don’t realize the importance of our roles in the plan of salvation. We look at ourselves and we say, ‘I’m just living this simple, ordinary little life. What can I do to really make a difference in the world?’ I bet that’s the same thought that St. Joseph had. He thought, ‘Well I’m just a simple carpenter. Who am I to be entrusted with the Savior of the world? Who am I to be entrusted with the Mother of God?’
And yet that is the call that each one of us has. We have been entrusted with the riches of God’s kingdom – with the sacraments, with faith, with grace. And we’re called to cooperate with God in how we use what He has entrusted to us. Just as St. Joseph did.
What’s amazing to me about St. Joseph is that he’s such a humble, hidden guy. I mean, look at who he was. There is not a single recorded word of St. Joseph in all of Scripture. And yet, there is exactly one word that we can be sure he said – and that is the name of Jesus. Because he was asked, delegated, appointed by God to be the earthly father of Jesus and to be the husband of Mary. And so he fulfilled his responsibility, we read in Scripture, when he goes and he gives the name of Jesus to Him in the temple.
That’s why when we look at St. Joseph, we have to realize the lesson that he gives us. We have to recognize the challenge that he gives us to be known not for our own accomplishments, not for our own achievements, not for our own talents or skills. All of those things are blessings from God, and they’re wonderful.
But we need to be known for that relationship with Jesus. We need to be known for following Him. We need to be known for staying close to Him.
It doesn’t matter if nobody else knows us. It doesn’t matter if I’m living a quiet, humble, hidden, ordinary life. I know that’s what you’re experiencing sometimes in your life. You look at your life and you think, ‘Who am I? I can’t get out there and do major things. I don’t have a gift of explaining the faith. I don’t have the gift of getting up in front of a bunch of people and sharing the Gospel that way. So what’s my role? Am I just supposed to be a nobody? Am I not supposed to be involved in that part of the mission of the Church?’
And I would say: Hardly. When we look at St. Joseph we realize how important his own role was, and yet how quiet, how humble. He gave all of the glory to Jesus. He gave all of the honor to our Blessed Mother and to her son Jesus. If you and I were known for living our Catholic, Christian life – giving all glory to Jesus, giving all of our attention, all of our focus, putting all of our attention back on the Lord – imagine the amazing things that would happen in this world.”
Listen to more about St. Joseph below:
St. Joseph’s Workshop with Fr. Matthew Spencer airs weekdays from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Pacific on Immaculate Heart Radio.