The Repose of St. Joseph the Carpenter – 26th of Abib, 2nd of August

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.” (Luke 2:4)

The righteous man St. Joseph, the carpenter, the patron of our church, who was worthy to be called the father of Christ in the flesh, departed at a good old age. The Holy Gospel bore witness that he was a righteous man, and God chose him to be betrothed to the all-pure, our lady, the Virgin St. Mary. When the time came for him to depart from this world, the Lord Christ was present at his departure, and laid His hand upon his eyes. He extended his arms, and delivered up his soul, and was buried in the tomb of his father Jacob. All the days of his life were one hundred and eleven years; forty years before his marriage, fifty-two years married, and nineteen years a widow. His departure was in the sixteenth year of the advent of the Lord Christ. His departure was on the twenty-sixth day of the month of Ebib, the second of August.

The Life of the Righteous St. Joseph the Carpenter

Born in Bethlehem of Judea, St. Joseph came from the royal linage of King David (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). The Scriptures do not tell us why or when originally St. Joseph left Bethlehem and chose Nazareth to be his place of residence, but it tells us that he was a carpenter (Matthew 13:5).

According to tradition, when St. Mary, who was consecrated to God, completed twelve years in the sanctuary and could not stay there any longer, the priests took counsel in order to find someone whom they could give her to, in marriage, to protect her because she was consecrated to God. They gathered twelve righteous men from the house of David of the tribe of Judah (St. Joseph’s lineage is in Matt 1:17 and Luke 3:23) and gathered these men’s stuffs to put them in the Sanctuary. A miracle revealed the choice God had made. A dove flew up and stood on the staff belonging to St. Joseph. They immediately knew that this was God’s will. The righteous St. Joseph took St. Mary to his house. Both spouses intended for this betrothal to be virginal marriage. 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, behaved with prudence 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…”  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.

Archangel Gabriel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him: “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son” (Matthew 2:13-15).

Upon their return from Egypt, the Holy Family settled again at Nazareth. We do not know many details about their life in Nazareth except that they faithfully followed the religious practices commanded by the Law.

St. Joseph was a modest man, not with great means, for when the time came to present the Child Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24). He was present at the temple, saw Simeon the elder carry the Child and prophesy about Him. Both St. Joseph and St. Mary marveled at those things spoken of the Lord and they both received Simeon blessings. St. Joseph was man of faith, obedient to God in every way.

May the blessings of the righteous Saint Joseph be with us all. Amen