Joseph was engaged to Mary who was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit even before they lived together. Being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, Joseph thought of dismissing her quietly. But the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and instructed him to take Mary as his wife for the child was from the Holy Spirit and would be the Saviour of his people. When Joseph awoke from his dream, he did as he was instructed.
We consider Joseph as the foster father of Jesus because the real father of Jesus is God the Father. We trace the family tree of Jesus to Joseph because his being son to Joseph makes him belong to the kingly ancestry of David. Joseph became the foster father of Jesus by following the will of God in his own life and the history of God’s people. In a way, Joseph obeyed God’s command rather than having his own way.
It should have been very difficult for a man like Joseph to resist following his own masculine tendency to determine his own fate in life or to face the challenge of becoming part of the Holy Family where the only biological relationship was between Mary the mother and Jesus the Son. The kind of unity of such a divergent family is not based on blood affinity but on the mandate to follow God’s plan in their own respective lives.
We find in Joseph a different kind of heroism. Joseph is a principled person faithful to his own Jewish tradition who chose compassion to legalism. Joseph is a model of husbandry and fatherhood, especially in our own times. Here is a husband and father whose role is more of following the divine will of God than following his own human preference in taking care of his wife and his son. The basis of his loving and caring relationship is more moral and spiritual than physical which is not existent after all.
After we approach Christmas, let us look to Joseph for his dedication and loyalty to God in his entire life. Joseph is a model of an obedient servant who would rather follow God rather than men, including himself.
Like Joseph, we are challenged to be faithful to the message of God in the unfolding events of our lives. We don’t have to be larger than life. We have to go through our lives with the magnanimity of heart that made Joseph follow the will of God in his life to the end rather his own.