March 19 commemorates the feast of St. Joseph, the foster father of Christ and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Joseph was of the lineage of David, the greatest king of Israel. He was given the duty of protecting the Holy Family and helping to raise Jesus. When it falls on a Sunday, it's observed the following day.
All that is known of him comes from the Gospels, which pay Joseph a very high compliment: he was a "righteous" man. In the Bible, a person who is "righteous" is one who is completely obedient to the will of God.
Although he was of Davidic descent, his trade as a carpenter shows that he was impoverished. He is also known to have been impoverished because, when he took Jesus to the Temple to be presented to the Lord, he offered "in sacrifice, in accordance with what is prescribed in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" (Luke 2:24). This type of offering was allowed only for those who could not afford to purchase a lamb.
St. Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When betrothed to Mary, he discovered she was pregnant. Unaware that Mary was carrying Christ, conceived through the Holy Spirit, and knowing that the child was not his, Joseph planned to divorce Mary according to the law. Concerned for her well-being and fully aware that women accused of adultery could be stoned to death, he "decided to divorce her quietly" (Matthew 1:19).
He was continuously obedient to the instructions given to him by the angel of the Lord. Appearing to him in a dream, the angel told Joseph to take Mary for his wife, for she was pregnant with Jesus. When "Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded" and took Mary into his home (Matthew 1:24). The angel later appeared to him again, telling him to flee with Mary and Jesus to avoid the danger of Herod, who intended to kill Jesus. Joseph immediately rose and departed for Egypt. He then remained in Egypt until the angel of the Lord told him it was safe for them to return to Nazareth.
Because Joseph does not appear in Jesus' public life, at His death or resurrection, it is believed that he died before Jesus entered His public ministry.
He is the patron saint of the universal Church, fathers of families, laborers, especially carpenters, immigrants and of social justice.
The feast of March 19 is the feast of St. Joseph, the Husband of Mary. On May 1 the Church celebrates the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
-- Christopher Lux, intern