St. Joseph: First Among All Saints

The great purpose God had in mind in creating St Joseph was to associate him with the mystery of the Incarnation.

Newsroom (06/12/2021 09:00, Gaudium Press) Every December since 1223, when St. Francis of Assisi first organized a Christmas pageant to better explain the Mystery of the Incarnation to the people, cribs, from the simplest to the most refined, are set up in churches and pious homes. Although the number of figures represented in them may exceed a hundred, the central elements remain invariable: the Child in the manger, flanked by His Mother and St. Joseph.

Yes, St. Joseph is always present; but for many people, his role in the Incarnation is unknown. Many remember him only as a poor and humble carpenter, and few are those who have a deeper sense of the real value of this peerless man.

What should someone chosen by Providence be like for the mission of living with Jesus and Mary, of protecting and sustaining them? The answer can be found by applying to St. Joseph a reasoning similar to that which is applied to Mary Most Holy.

When he proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, Blessed Pius IX, in the Bull ‘Ineffabilis Deus’, stated that the Father had to prepare for His only-begotten Son a Mother; a Mother who would be filled, “far above all the Angels and Saints, with an abundance of heavenly gifts drawn from the treasury of the Divinity”.

One wonders, then, what the Creator’s care must have been in choosing from all eternity a most chaste Spouse for His Beloved! God, who does everything with infinite perfection, would have prepared for Her someone who was in some way proportioned to Him, enriching him with an immense collection of gifts – beginning with that of wisdom – which would enable him to see and judge all things through the divine “eyes”.

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Destined to be the adoptive father of God, thus touching the Hypostatic Union itself, St. Joseph was so deeply linked to the Redeemer that his genealogy is cited at the very beginning of St. Matthew’s Gospel, in order to demonstrate his direct descent from David (Mt 1:1-17).

Moreover, it was St. Joseph who led Our Lady to Bethlehem to fulfil the prophecy that the Saviour would be born there(Lk 2:4-7). It was he, too, who took the Mother and Child to Egypt, fleeing from Herod, as was foretold in another passage of Scripture (Mt 2:13-15). And it was he who decided to settle with them in Nazareth of Galilee, as foretold by the Prophets (Mt 2:19-23). Therefore, his own countrymen asked: “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? (Jn 6:42).

In the Bull Ineffabilis Deus, Pius IX also asserts that God united the Saviour and Our Lady in an indissoluble alliance: “Not Mary without Jesus, nor Jesus without Mary“. It is not too much to affirm that to the Mother and to the Son he also joined St. Joseph, first among all the Saints.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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