Today, the Church commemorates St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus Christ. In the second option for today’s Gospel passage, we hear the story of the finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. St. Luke tells us that the Holy Family would go to Jerusalem each year for the Passover. When Jesus was twelve — the age that boys were considered men in the Jewish religion — He remained behind in Jerusalem while His parents began their journey back to Nazareth. Mary says that she and St. Joseph were filled with “great anxiety” upon learning that their Son was missing. They could not find Him for three days — a symbolic number, perhaps foreshadowing the three days He would spend in the tomb before rising on Easter Sunday.
In his Daily Devotions to St. Joseph, St. Alphonsus de Liguori writes that being deprived of the presence of Our Lord caused St. Joseph great sorrow and pain, as well as anxiety in wondering where He was and whether they would ever find Him. As a father, St. Joseph also felt great pain and fear that it was due to negligence on his part. St. Alphonsus writes that St. Joseph’s joy was thus immeasurable when they at last found Jesus in the Temple, having remained behind “from a zeal for the glory of the Father.”1
As the foster father of Jesus, we know that St. Joseph spent his earthly life caring for his Son and holy wife. Tradition holds that St. Joseph was a carpenter, spending long hours each day hard at work to provide for his family. His life was one of complete service to Jesus and Mary — the perfect model for how we as Catholics should live.
On this Solemnity of St. Joseph, let us resolve to follow his example in living our lives completely devoted to Jesus and Mary. Let us also ask his intercession for us, imploring him to fill us with a sincere sorrow for our sins. Whenever we sin, may we experience the same sorrow St. Joseph felt upon losing the Child Jesus, and with perfect contrition, receive absolution as soon as possible in order to be united with Him once more.
St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us.
Alphonsus Liguori, Daily Devotions to St. Joseph, trans. Hugh J. O’Connell (Liguori, MO: Liguorian Pamphlets Redemptorist Fathers, 2017).
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