On this feast of St Joseph I am drawn to the word “patron” as that is what we Sisters of St. Joseph call the man behind the name. Information about Joseph is almost nil. We know only from scant mention in Scripture and from legend that he was a quiet man, husband of Mary and human father to Jesus. Obedient to his dreams and visions, we find him trustworthy and faithful to his family and his God.
It is rather extraordinary that we who live in this time of an information glut but who are generally unwilling to take most things “on faith” would see Joseph as someone to be revered without much proof. It says to me that we are still a people willing to believe in what we have been taught of goodness as well as extrapolation from what is written, e.g.: Joseph’s dreams saved Mary’s reputation and actually her life as well. He saved Jesus from the violence of Herod and taught him to work in wood – a noble occupation. Thus, he must have been loving and courageous in a quiet sort of way.
Here are some words that describe a patron: promoter, friend, guarantor, helper, supporter, advocate, champion protector, supporter…We trust that Joseph was all those things. And others in the world believe all that of Joseph as well. In a list generated by the Franciscan Media website, we learn that the following countries and groups and life issues have been placed under the patronage (protection) of Saint Joseph: Belgium, Canada, carpenters, China, fathers, happy death, Peru, Russia, Social Justice, Travelers, The Universal Catholic Church, Vietnam and workers the world over. Oh yes, and Congregations of religious Sisters of St. Joseph everywhere.
So what is to be learned from all this? I might say that a person ought not to try to be something s/he is not but only be the best person possible in order to respond to the unique destiny offered by the Divine. And if one is blessed to be placed under the “patronage” of one as revered as Joseph, today should be a day of deep gratitude and celebration – as it always is!
Happy St. Joseph’s Day!