Today I had an unexpected meeting with a Catholic nun, who runs a house to care for women who have given birth illegally. This was an amazing and happy surprise, because her work is so beautiful, and saves many lives.*** But it also made me laugh, because she (and several other Catholic friends) wished me a “Happy St. Joseph’s Day!”
In the Catholic Church, today is “St. Joseph’s Day”. Catholics celebrate the life of Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth, who was a “just man”.
But really, all Christians should reflect on the importance of Joseph, in the life and mission of Jesus, and also as a prophetic symbol of the Church’s mission to care for vulnerable women and children.
And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
–Matthew 1:19-21, ESV
Joseph’s obedience to God was radical and counter-cultural. Because of God’s word to him, he chose to complete his marriage to a woman who was already pregnant.
It was Joseph who named Jesus.
And Joseph kept Mary and Jesus safe, while King Herod’s policy was in effect (Matthew 2:13).
It was Joseph who adopted Jesus into the lineage of King David, so that he could rightly be called “Son of David” and Messiah.
And we can only imagine that Joseph was a good father. “And Jesus grew in favor and stature, and in wisdom with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
Consider: In a society where it was culturally and legally unacceptable for single mothers to give birth (as it is today in Mainland China and Vietnam), the Savior was “saved” by adoption.
That’s one reason that Christians adopt–because adoption has always been part of God’s plan to save the world.
***This nun does incredibly heroic work, but she is only able to help a handful of the millions of women who are required to abort their children each year.
Where are the fathers, like St. Joseph, who will do anything for their wife and preborn child? May God give all Christians a heart as faithful as his!