We also know that Joseph is descended from the house of David, which allows Jesus to be the fulfillment of prophecies that the Messiah would come from King David’s line. The Bible tells us that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, but the Bible also references Joseph as Jesus’ “father.” This creates a level of uncertainty about Joseph’s role. Then Joseph disappears completely from the Gospels after the time Jesus is left behind at the temple, when he is twelve years old. Joseph’s absence from accounts of Jesus’ public life has been interpreted by most biblical scholars to mean that he died before Jesus began his teaching and public ministry. Our opportunities to get to know Joseph within the biblical witness are quite few.
Throughout history, church historians and theologians often lifted up Joseph as an example of the kind of father who parented “by love and service.” Early Franciscan scholars downplayed Joseph’s lack of biological connection to Jesus, instead focusing on the obvious parental nature of his actions. Jean Gerson, a leader in the 15th century French church, characterized Joseph as giving “all the care that a good and loyal and wise father can and should show to his true son.” Joseph speaks to us today because “after Mary, he was the first Christian, a model believer,” says Father Joseph Chorpenning of St. Joseph’s University.
Today’s scripture passage is the Biblical “version” of post-partum depression. After the warmth and glow of Christmas – the excitement caused by the arrival of a new baby – today is the Sunday that reality sets in. For most new parents, this is when you discover that your meek and mild infant is a terribly colicky baby. This is when you wonder how someone who weighs less than ten pounds can truly turn your whole house, your whole life, completely upside down. You think you will never sleep again, you will never spend time with your spouse again, and you will never have an adult conversation again.
But for Mary and Joseph, the situation is much more dramatic. They discover that their baby, meek and mild, is causing political uproar and Herod, the leader of the nation, is attempting to murder all baby boys. Instead of spending time getting to know their son, they suddenly find themselves as refugees, struggling to protect their child in a strange land. It is not a natural or ordinary start to their family life. Read more