Joseph, Guardian of Our Lord
19 March NT

All that we know of Joseph we learn from the first two chapters of Matthew and of Luke. Otherwise he is mentioned only in passing in Luke 3:23; John 1:45; John 6:42 as the supposed father of Jesus. (Mark does not mention him at all.)

In the face of circumstances where a man of lesser character might have reacted very differently, Joseph graciously assumed the role of Jesus' father. He is well remembered in Christian tradition for the love he showed to the boy Jesus, and for his tender affection and care for Mary, during the twelve years and more that he was their protector.

Joseph was a pious Jew, a descendant of David, and a carpenter by trade. (The Gospels use the Greek word TEKTON, which means "builder," as in "architect." It has been suggested that he may have been a mason or a metalworker, or a building contractor. In favor of the traditional translation, we have a remark in the writings of Justin Martyr, who was born in Palestine, probably around 100, and who tells us that he has seen plows and ox-yokes still in use which were said to have been made in the carpenter-shop at Nazareth. We may not believe that the particular claims were all accurate, but they are testimony to what the Christians of Palestine in the early second century believed that Joseph's occupation had been, and this may be an idea continuously handed down in the community there since the early first century.) Because of the silence of the Gospels, and because Jesus entrusted Mary to the care of John, it is generally believed that Joseph died a natural death after the visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:41-51), but before the Baptism of Jesus when He was thirty. Joseph's influence during those early years must have been tremendous. When Jesus spoke of God as being like a loving Father, He was using a word that he had first learned as a child to apply to Joseph. Joseph stands as a testimony to the value of simple everyday human things, and especially that human thing called "fatherhood."

Prayers (traditional language)

O God, who from the family of thy servant David didst raise up Joseph to be the guardian of thy incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to thy commands; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

O God, who didst call thy servant Joseph to be the faithful guardian of thine incarnate Son, and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to follow his example in constant worship of thee and obedience to thy commands, that our homes may be sanctified by thy presence, and our children nurtured in thy fear and love, through the same thy son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayers (contemporary language)

O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

O God, who called your servant Joseph to be the faithful guardian of your incarnate Son, and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to follow his example in constant worship of you and obedience to your commands, that our homes may be sanctified by your presence, and our children nurtured in your fear and love, through the same your son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Psalm 89:1-29 or 89:1-4,26-29 2 Samuel 7:4,8-16 Romans 4:13-18 Luke 2:41-52 (Ep)