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Monday, February 2, 2015

Joseph, the Husband of Mary

Joseph seems to be sort of neglected in the Christmas story. He is  initially referred to because Mary was engaged to him. In the Gospel of Matthew the order of events leaves Joseph till last to be notified of the impending birth. Apparently Mary did not disclose her pregnancy to Joseph at the time of the Angel's visit. Perhaps she waited until physical changes prompted questions. Joseph was a righteous man and he did not intend to dishonor God by engaging in unseemly behavior, so he planned to dissolve the engagement quietly. God was not worried about Joseph's reputation. He assured him that Mary was worthy to be his wife and the child was the Messiah who would save the people from their sins

Joseph's importance is emphasized by the genealogy that traces through him. Even though Joseph is a step-father, the Gospel of Matthew is careful to explore the genealogical connection through David. Matthew also points out that Joseph was visited by an angel who convinced him of Mary's virtue. There would be no breech of his honor to take Mary as his wife. Still with all the confidence God put in Joseph, the scripture devotes little time or ink to him in the Gospels.

I have been taught that he is assumed to have died by the time  Jesus was grown. There is no mention of him after Jesus' twelfth birthday. Jesus would have learned the builder's trade from Joseph even though his calling from God was to preach and heal and establish the Church. Some comentators point out that houses in Israel were built from stone, not wood and lumber, so he would have been a stone mason rather than a carpenter. Boats were built of wood and some of the furniture and doors so I have reason to believe he was also skilled in working with wood.