Saint Joseph the Worker

<em>Childhood of Christ</em> | Gerard van Honthorst,” data-temp-aztec-id=”dc8652b1-1d6b-4cf2-b3ee-ad26a028e1b0″></p>
<p>What is the true vocation of a man?  Men may be persuaded to believe that they must become good leaders, that they must have a lasting impact on the world, that they should show bravery and skill.  While all of these qualities are certainly commendable, the true work and vocation of a man is fatherhood.  Saint Joseph’s fatherhood is true human fatherhood because it is freely chosen and humbly fulfilled as a service of love.  Many human fathers get their start through a sense of obligation, or simply a moment of passion.  Saint Joseph was neither obliged to become a father nor was he driven to it by passion.</p>
<p>Saint Joseph was certainly a skilled laborer, but his greatest work was not meeting the material needs of the holy family.  I think we can understand from Jesus’ teachings on work a deeper example of faith provided by Saint Joseph.  Jesus said, “Do not work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life.” Saint Joseph’s work was to believe in the One sent by the Father.  This One became his only son – the fruit of his love for God and the Virgin Mary.  Though we cannot say that St. Joseph’s fatherhood is divine, we must state that he became a true father because of his faith and love.  Becoming the father of Jesus meant leading in order to be led by God, it meant teaching in order to learn from God, it meant caring for the One who depends upon you in order to receive the care God gives.</p>
<blockquote><p>The Lord is dishonored by his own. Although his wisdom in teaching and his mighty works excited admiration, their faithlessness held them back from true discernment. For they did not believe that God was doing these things in a man. Moreover, they referred to his father, his mother, brothers and sisters and took offense at him.<br />
But clearly this was the son of the carpenter who was subduing iron with fire, melting away all the might of the world with good judgment and forming the mass into every work that was humanly useful. He was molding the formless material of our bodies into members for different ministries and for every work of eternal life. They all became irritated at these things. Among the many astonishing things he did, they were most deeply moved by his contemplativeness and his bodily self-control. The Lord said to them that a prophet is without honor in his own country,13 because he was to be despised in Judea until the final fate of the cross. And since God’s power is only with those who are faithful, he abstained from all works of divine power while he was there, because of their unbelief.<span id='easy-footnote-1-280' class='easy-footnote-margin-adjust'></span><span class='easy-footnote'><a href='#easy-footnote-bottom-1-280' title='ON MATTHEW 14.2.  <span style="color: #333333; font-size: 1rem;">Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 293). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.'><sup>1</sup></a></span></span></p></blockquote>
<blockquote><p>But having come to his own country, he is not so intent upon miracles. He does not want to inflame them into further envy or to condemn them more grievously by the aggravation of their unbelief. Yet he presents his teaching, which possesses no less wonder than his miracles. For these utterly senseless people, when they ought to have marveled and been amazed at the power of his words, instead disparaged him, because of the one thought to be his father. Yet we know they had many examples of these things in the former times, for many fathers of little note had produced illustrious children.<span id='easy-footnote-2-280' class='easy-footnote-margin-adjust'></span><span class='easy-footnote'><a href='#easy-footnote-bottom-2-280' title='THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 48.1. <span style="color: #333333; font-size: 1rem;">Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 293). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.'><sup>2</sup></a></span></span></p></blockquote>
<p style=It seems to me that the production of miracles is similar in some ways to the case of physical things. Cultivation is not sufficient to produce a harvest of fruits unless the soil, or rather the atmosphere, cooperates to this end. And the atmosphere of itself is not sufficient to produce a harvest without cultivation. The one who providentially orders creation did not design things to spring up from the earth without cultivation. Only in the first instance did he do so when he said, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation, with the seed sowing according to its kind and according to its likeness.”19
It is just this way in regard to the production of miracles. The complete work resulting in a healing is not displayed without those being healed exercising faith. Faith, of whatever quality it might be, does not produce a healing without divine power.3


  1. ON MATTHEW 14.2. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 293). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 48.1. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 293). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 10.19. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 294). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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