May 1 is the feast day of St. Joseph, spouse of Mary and foster father of Jesus. His role is often overlooked in the life of Jesus. He is often called a silent saint. This silence was a key to the Holy Family. Joseph and Mary were not yet married when she was found to be pregnant. At the words of the angel, Gabriel, he chose to stay silent and not repudiate Mary. This account is found in the Gospel of Matthew and Matthew wanted to place the birth of Jesus, and the formation of the Holy Family, in Scriptural traditions. Numbers 30 discusses such a matter. If a woman makes a pledge and the man stays silent, the pledge is kept intact. Mary made her pledge, to endure the pregnancy and birth, with her FIAT, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word”. (Luke 1:38)
Pope Leo XIII, in Encyclical Quamquam pluries, 1889, praised St. Joseph;
“These are the reasons why men of every rank and country should fly to the trust and guard of the blessed Joseph. Fathers of families find in Joseph the best personification of paternal solicitude and vigilance; spouses a perfect example of love, of peace, and of conjugal fidelity; virgins at the same time find in him the model and protector of virginal integrity. The noble of birth will learn of Joseph how to guard their dignity even in misfortune; the rich will understand, by his lessons, what are the goods most to be desired and won at the price of their labor. As to workmen, artisans, and persons of lesser degree, their recourse to Joseph is a special right, and his example is for their particular imitation.
For Joseph, of royal blood, united by marriage to the greatest and holiest of women, reputed the father of the Son of God, passed his life in labor, and won by the toil of the artisan the needful support of his family.
It is, then, true that the condition of the lowly has nothing shameful in it, and the work of the laborer is not only not dishonoring, but can, if virtue be joined to it, be singularly ennobled. Joseph, content with his slight possessions, bore the trials consequent on a fortune so slender, with greatness of soul, in imitation of his Son, who having put on the form of a slave, being the Lord of life, subjected himself of his own free-will to the spoliation and loss of everything”.
Today, let us remember St. Joseph, the patron of workers, for his powerful support of the Holy Family. He safeguarded Mary’s perpetual virginity and guided young Jesus in His formative years.