St. Joseph the Carpenter

During Christmas, we tend to overlook the role of a very important member of the Holy Family during these events, St. Joseph the carpenter. He was born in Bethlehem of Judea and came from the royal lineage of King David.

St. Joseph was a modest man without great means. The Virgin Mary was his betrothed, an when St. Joseph discovered St. Mary was pregnant, he knew the child was not his. St. Joseph knew that a woman accused of adultery could be stoned to death. Being a compassionate man, full of love he did not want to defame her for “Love covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12). Being sensible and discreet he did not show annoyance nor behaved in anger but behaved with prudence “A fools wrath is known at once, But a prudent man covers shame” (Proverbs 12:16) and decided to put her away secretly (Matthew 1:18,19).

But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife” (Matthew 1:20-24). St. Joseph did not doubt the angel of the Lord but in full faith accepted his words and kept St. Mary with him.

A few months later, Caesar Augustus issued a decree ordering the entire world to be registered everyone in his own city. For St. Joseph and St. Mary, this meant to travel from Nazareth of Galilee to Bethlehem of Judea. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem “the days were completed for her to be delivered .” and “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7). St. Joseph was there with St. Mary at the birth of our Lord. He was there when the shepherds came to greet the Newborn. He witnessed the wise men offering gifts to the Child. He took full responsibility of the Mother and Child.

St. Joseph was man of faith, obedient to God in every way. When the angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:13). He did not hesitate but immediately left everything he owned, all his relatives and friends, and fled to Egypt, a strange country. He took full responsibility of the Child although he is not His real father. It did not occur to him that his own life and the life of St. Mary were not in danger, but only the Child. He could have resented this move but he did not. In all obedience he went to Egypt and waited there submissively until the angel of the Lord told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).

St. Joseph raised the Lord Jesus, loved Him and cared for His safety. St. Joseph definitely treated the Lord Jesus as his own son; For the people of Nazareth had said of the Lord, “Is this not the son of Joseph” (Luke 4:22).

May the blessings of the righteous saint be with us all Amen.

– Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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