JOSEPH THE CARPENTER (Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.)

JOSEPH THE CARPENTER (Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.)

Joseph or Jose is one of the most common biblical names given to boys at baptism. There are five different persons in the New Testament with the name Joseph: 1) Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, 2) Joseph, brother of Jesus, 3) Joseph of Arimathea, 4) Joseph Barsabbas and 5) Joseph Barnabas. Many Josephs in New Testament and Old Testament show that Joseph is a popular name in Jewish religion.

But the name given to Christian children represents only one Joseph Joseph the foster father of Jesus, the Spouse of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

In spite of the most important position of Joseph in the life of Jesus and Mother Mary, we have very little information about his life and occupation. The information, which we have, comes from the first two chapters of the Gospels according to Mathew and Luke and from the two passing reference to Joseph in the Gospel according to John (Jn.1, 45 & 6, 42).

In his infancy narration of Jesus, Mathew introduces Joseph as follows, This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For, it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus - because he will save his people from their sins.

Now all this happened in order to make what the Lord had said through the prophet come true, A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel (which means, God is with us).

So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to do. But he had no sexual relations with her before she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him the name Jesus (Mt. 1, 18-25).

In St. Lukes Gospel Josephs name comes at the annunciation of Jesus birth by the angel Gabriel, In the sixth month of Elizabeths pregnancy God sent the angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee named Nazareth. He had a message for a girl promised in marriage to a man named Joseph, who was a descendant to King David. The girls name was Mary ( Lk 1, 26-27).

Only St. Luke in chapter two gives a vivid infancy narration of Jesus birth and childhood. According to Caesar Augustus decree of a census of the entire Roman world, Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judaea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger - there was no room for them to stay in the inn (Lk 2, 4-7).

When Jesus was born, as directed by angels, the shepherds living out in the field hurried to meet baby Jesus. Luke says, they found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger (Lk 2, 16).

Then we meet Joseph at the presentation of Jesus at the Jerusalem Temple. The time came for Joseph and Mary to perform the ceremony of purification, as the Law of Moses commanded. So they took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every first-born male is to be dedicated to the Lord. They also went to offer a sacrifice of a pair of doves or two young pigeons (Lk 2, 22-24).

Joseph is also mentioned or referred to in Lukes Gospel in the genealogy of Jesus as the son, so people thought, of Joseph, who was the son of Heli (Lk 3, 23). Again in Lukes Gospel, when Jesus visited his place Nazareth and spoke in the synagogue, the people were amazed and asked with wonder, Isnt he the son of Joseph? (Lk 4, 22).

We get also two other references to Joseph in St. Johns Gospel. Both the references speak of Jesus as the son of Joseph (Jn 1, 45; 6 42).

Jesus is identified as carpenter in Marks Gospel as the people of his hometown asked, Isnt he the carpenter, the son of Mary (Mk 6-3). And in Mathew in his hometown the people asked, Isnt he the carpenters son? Isnt Mary his mother (Mt. 13, 55).

From these references we can safely conclude that Joseph was a carpenter by profession and he taught Jesus carpentry. So Jesus is rightly referred to as a carpenter and as a carpenters son.

There is no reference to Joseph in the Bible after finding Jesus in the Temple. So we can safely assume that Joseph did not live long enough to see Jesus public ministry. Then, at the foot of the cross Jesus entrusts his mother Mary to the care of John, the evangelist.

The fact that Jesus was known as carpenters son as well as the carpenter indicated that after teaching Jesus carpentry, Joseph must have died much before Jesus public ministry and Jesus did make a name as a carpenter at least in his hometown Nazareth.

The Catholic Church consider Joseph the greatest saint, second only to Mother Mary, because of his closeness to Jesus and Mother Mary. He cared for them whole-heartedly in every way possible.

Devotion to St. Joseph can be traced to 4th century when the eastern Coptic Christians started to celebrate a feast in his honour and his cult has been steadily on the increasing.

In the Catholic Church we know that St. Teresa of Avila, Spain chose St. Joseph as patron of her reform of the Carmelite Order. She and her nuns have been observing the feast of St. Joseph from 1689.

The devotion to St. Joseph grew steadily that Pope Pius IX proclaimed St. Joseph as the patron saint of the Universal Church in 1870 at the request of over 300 bishops who were assembled in Vatican Council I (1869-1870).

In the Latin liturgical cycle Josephs feast is observed on March 19. The Catholic Church has also constituted a special feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1, every year. (contact the author: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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