I say call him the Quiet Man because no word is credited to him in all of Scripture. Still, there is much, very much, that we can learn from him.
Yes, he might have only been referenced a few times, but how those few references seem to speak louder than thunder when taking a moment to look at them.
The first time that we hear of Joseph in the Gospels is in relation to the Jesus' lineage in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus' lineage is traced through Joseph. Jesus was Son of David through Joseph. So, Joseph, though not the biological father of Jesus, still had a fatherly role in Jesus' life. How else could he pass on his lineage? Joseph was a father to Jesus. Not biological. He is most-commonly called the foster-father of Jesus. We too have more than one father in our lives: our biological father and our Heavenly Father.
As further evidence, even Mary, who knew Joseph was not the biological father, called Joseph Jesus' father when they found Jesus in the temple. Mary says, "Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." - [Luke 2:48] So, we can take any thought of Joseph as not being a father to Jesus as non-biblical.
So, was Joseph the father at conception or did he, in a sense, enter in later? Indeed, when Mary questions the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, she provides insight that we might not first see.
In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel states that Mary “will” conceive a son that she will name Jesus. The key word in our deeper look is “will”. Mary then asks “How can this be?” Seems like a normal response with nothing much to it, but there is more, much more to it. In leading to this exchange, it is stated that Mary is betrothed to Joseph. It would seem like asking “how” is a little naïve. She is betrothed after all, unless she has good reason to ask.
Now, in the Old Testament (Numbers chapter 30), there is a description of vows of virginity and how these vows holds up in certain circumstances. It only holds up if both the father and husband know about it without voicing disapproval. It would appear from her response that there has been no disapproval from either meaning that she must indeed be married and her “how” is a true inquiry. Is God asking me to break the vow I made to Him or does He have another way? Otherwise, wouldn’t the angel have dealt with Mary like the angel dealt with Zachariah?
How does this relate to Joseph? Well, she is married. But, I thought the Bible said Mary was betrothed? Old traditions were that betrothal was officially marriage; however, just before a couple was allowed to be intimate.
So, it seems to me that Joseph was the father of Jesus in a special way: one that does not diminish the fatherhood of God the Father. And father from the very moment of Jesus’ conception. Like biological fathers, he was unaware of the conception at the time, but came to know and accept it when informed of his fatherhood.
There is so much more to say and expound upon, but I will have to leave that for another time.
May fathers everywhere accept their fatherhood and fulfill it in imitation of Saint Joseph.
(Note for editor: St. Joseph's feast day is March 19th. If possible, I would really appreciate that day being when this article is published. Otherwise, he has a feast day on May 1st too.)