St. Joseph: Part 9 – Steady Worker & St. Joseph: Part 10 – A Simple Man

~by Louis Templeman

St. Joseph: Part 9 – Steady Worker


After Herod dies Joseph was instructed by an angel to return to Israel. In Israel Joseph learns Herod’s son is on the throne. This gives him pause. He cannot relocate near the King. Perhaps, he felt the Messiah should grow up near the Temple, but he fears this cannot be. He dreams again and received more instruction and so goes to Galilee to a town called Nazareth.

In Nazareth life finally settled down for Joseph. He surely reestablished the routines he enjoyed before he married Mary. Whatever duties he encountered as a Son of David, husband, foster father, he performed as completely as possible. He was a godly man. Very religious. His religion was real, from the heart. His ritual observances spoke not only of his comfort in the culture of Judaism but were also a soulful, pious embrace of righteousness. Luke 2: 41 states, “Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover.”

The Passover after Jesus’ bar mitzvah, when he turned 12, presented Joseph with an unusual conundrum. This was his fifth Passover since he relocated to Nazareth. The other four went smoothly. They had made the pilgrimage with family and neighbors. Jesus was an unusual boy. More steady and mature than any man Joseph knew. His morality, his work ethic, his sense of responsibility, his ability to take care of himself and his natural propensity for kindness, generosity and strength gave Joseph an unmeasured sense of trust in the child. On the previous trips they often traveled for miles without the child being near. Especially if Joseph or Mary were not in need of his assistance. They knew he was safe, making good use of his time, possibly helping others in the caravan full of family and neighbors. Or, maybe he was seeking solitude and time for prayer.

So, on this fifth return from Passover when Jesus went missing it raised no alarm. When evening came and they bedded down for the night it is certain he was troubled. When he did not make himself known in the morning Joseph made arrangements to turn around and go find him. It was his responsibility to care for the child and at that moment he did not even know where he was. They had made a day’s travel away and it took a day to return.

Perhaps they stopped at Elizabeth’s and Zacharias’ house to see if he was with John. Perhaps, they went to the inn where they had boarded. Having made five annual trips to Jerusalem they were not without contacts in the city. They inquired at every one. It may be they ran into a priest, one whom Jesus had formed a bond with, and on advising him of their missing son, he replied, “Oh, yes, Jesus. He’s causing quite a stir. He’s probably still in the Temple. He’s been holding court with the best minds in Israel the last few days”. Once again, after twelve years, publicity again concerning his son. All the memories resurfaced. Jesus, his son, was destined to be a great public figure. In the Temple they found him surrounded by the old grey beards of Israel. Joseph had recovered. He’d lost track of Jesus. He searched until he found him. Joseph understood work. He understood duty. He himself had a vocation from God since that first dream. He knew a boy of twelve, according to covenant custom, was considered a young man. He knew Jesus had a vocation. He may have known his son was simply doing what came natural to him. He was a man. He was beginning his vocation as a man of God. Nevertheless, he felt the contradiction within himself. His personal responsibility over the family was now being crosscut by Jesus’ emerging embrace of his responsibility to do God’s will.

As always Joseph is silent. As always he is right there. Never missing from the excitement, he gives a steady calming influence. It is Mary who speaks. Depending on how you would interpret the inflection of her voice it would seem her emotions could range from relief, distraction, exasperation, perplexity to disapproval. However, Jesus explained to them that this is where he belongs. Why would they look for him outside his Father’s house? What else would he be involved in except his Father’s business?

His Father’s business? Joseph knew he was not being referred to. His role as father had been temporary. His role was changing. It was the changing of the guards. Jesus was moving from under his watch care to dwell under the shadow of God’s wings. Joseph sensed the change in a way entirely different from Mary. He would allow his son the space to spread his wings. Who did he know other than his son who would refer to God as Father, with such authority, with such intimacy?

St. Joseph: Part 10 – A Simple Man


Luke 2: 46, . . . but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him . . . . When his parents saw him they were astonished . . . . But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them.

Joseph is only mentioned one other time in the Gospel record. That came after Jesus had begun his ministry. He headquartered in Capernaum. He returned to Nazareth to preach. The businessmen and religious workers in his hometown were understandably upset that Jesus chose not to headquarter in his own hometown. Nazareth was insignificant. It could have benefited from the notoriety and the influx of seekers who would have brought income to the village as they sought out the young rabbi. When Jesus preached they were amazed at his beautiful words of wisdom. Yet, they were also insulted and jealous. They complained that he did no mighty works in his home town like he was famous for doing elsewhere. Doesn’t he owe it to us they groused. Didn’t he grow up here? Is he not the “son of Joseph?”

They may not have been complimenting either Joseph or Jesus. Perhaps they were comforting one another with a reminder of the simple peasant heritage Jesus had. Why Joseph was no better than they were. Who does Jesus think he is?

But we may infer the Holy Spirit providentially placed this title on Jesus, Son of Joseph, in the scripture purely because of God’s own validation of the man, his chosen vessel, Joseph. No less than the Second Person of the Trinity took on the holy appellation of Son of Joseph.

When the angel inspired Joseph to accept a hard truth and a tough job he called him Son of David. When God recalled how well Joseph performed as a son of David, he referred to the son of God, Jesus, as Son of Joseph.

He is still busy today, employing the same attributes. He is in his present role patron of the Church, unborn children, fathers, immigrants, workers, carpenters, realtors. He assists those who are besieged by doubt and hesitation. He is also the patron for those who desire a happy death (and no wonder, since he had both Jesus and Mary at his bedside as he died). He is also the patron of Croatia, Korea, and Vietnam, and performs many other roles as well.

A silent man. A steady man. A holy man. Known only by his relationship to others. A son, a husband, a father who performed promptly and obediently as a soldier. One of the first to serve Christ honorably and whole heartedly with all he had.

This was and is Saint Joseph. An obedient and prompt servant. Then and now.

St. Joseph: Part 1—Son of David & Part 2—A Righteous Man

St. Joseph: Part 3—A Chaste Man & Part 4—Obedient Pilgrim

St. Joseph: Part5–Man of Questioning Faith & Part 6: The Observant Jew

St. Joseph: Part 9–Steady Worker & Part 10 Simple Man

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Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D. Louis has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is fighting the good fight. Much of what he writes these days he is sharing his journey with us. Please keep Louis and his wife Joy in your prayers.

CLICK HERE to visit Louis’ Catholic Journeyman Archive

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