One of my all-time heroes of the faith is St. Joseph. He was the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the earthly father of Jesus. So, obviously, he played an important role in the development of Christianity. His role was so important, he was quoted exactly zero times in the Bible.
Wait, what? There are no words of Joseph recorded in Scripture? That’s right. There are many events that describe what Joseph did, what he thought, and especially what he dreamed. But he had a non-speaking part in the drama. This tells us he was most likely the strong, silent type.
When you realize that in the house of the Holy Family, Joseph was the only one who was a sinner, you kind of feel bad for him. This is a distinctly Catholic view, by the way, as the Church teaches the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This means Mary was given a special grace by God to have been conceived without sin. The thinking is, the vessel that held the divine, sinless, Incarnate Lord should be as spotless as He is. It would be rather awkward if the sinless Jesus was inside the womb of a woman stained by sin. (When I say “stained by sin,” I don’t mean sex, which is a gift from God. I mean the sinful nature we all inherited from Adam: selfishness, cruelty, anger, pride, etc.) Did Mary HAVE to be sinless? No, with God all things are possible. But the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has concluded that Mary’s being conceived without sin is the most logical scenario.
Anyway, according to Catholic doctrine, Jesus of course was sinless, and Mary also was without sin. The fact that they were the only two people in the history of the human race to be that way didn’t make it any easier for poor ol’ St. Joseph. Whenever anything bad happened in that household, two sets of holy eyes turned and stared at Joseph. “I didn’t do it!” he most likely protested. Then when both Jesus and Mary raised their eyebrows to silently say, “Oh really?” Joseph probably got up and walked out of the room, mumbling, “I plead the Fifth Amendment.” No wonder he said so few words.
(If you think the previous paragraph is sacrilegious, please don’t be offended. It’s just some silly, humorous speculation. I’m sure the Holy Family is not upset by the online musings of a knucklehead who tries to be faithful.)
If it was tough on Joseph being the only sinner in the family, he did enjoy one of the greatest experiences a person could have: he died in the arms of Jesus and Mary.
Wow, it doesn’t get any better than that. Well, I guess never dying would be better, but none of us have that option. So when it came time for Joseph to die, it must’ve been joyously comforting to be cradled in the arms of your loving wife, the Blessed Virgin Mary, along with the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus.
We can have a similar experience, but in a spiritual way. On our deathbed, we can ask in prayer for the Lord and the Blessed Virgin to be with us, and help us make the transition to the other side with hope and courage.
Wouldn’t that be great? At the very moment when we most likely will be apprehensive about what comes next, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, along with His loving mom, can embrace us with hugs of comfort, similar to what St. Joseph enjoyed as he took his last earthly breath.
So, when you read in your Bible about the adventures of St. Joseph (and realize he never said a word), make sure to follow his example. He put all of his personal needs and desires aside to do God’s will. That makes St. Joseph a hero of the faith. And his reward was to be in the loving arms of Mary and Jesus at the moment of his physical death — an embrace that continues to this day and for all of eternity in Heaven.