St. Joseph was a quiet man who changed the world forever


St. Joseph remains in the background in Christmas pageants. He’s not mentioned in popular carols — and never utters a word in Scripture.

Still, without him, the Nativity story would be entirely different.

Most kids can recite the angel’s words to Mary — “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” — but only adults understand why the young girl was troubled, when the angel said she’d conceive a child.

Yes, Mary was a virgin, but she clearly knew the facts of life — which is why she demurred, until the angel explained this would be an extraordinary conception: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Even though this was long ago, she was a real person living in the ordinary world — and must have dreaded revealing the news of her pregnancy to Joseph, her fiance.

Joseph was a “righteous” man, Scripture assures us, so he surely accepted the Jewish rules about proper sexual behavior — which makes me wonder about his reaction to Mary’s story.

It’s possible he stormed around a bit and begged her for the truth. Still, even though he didn’t believe her, he loved her — so rather than embarrass her publicly, he decided to quietly call it quits.

But then a dream upended his plans — and kept the Nativity story from ending tragically.

It seems that, as he slept, an angel’s words dissolved his reservations about Mary’s pregnancy: “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

Joseph took the dream to heart, as a message from God, and upon awakening, “he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”

Here’s where the “what ifs?” come in. What if he hadn’t married Mary? What if he’d dismissed the dream as nonsense?

She might have been stoned to death for her apparent indiscretion — with the baby in her womb.

Thanks to Joseph’s faith, though, that chilling scenario never took place. And the next time we hear about the couple, they’re hunkered down in a stable — with bleating sheep, mooing cows and braying donkeys — awaiting Jesus’ birth.

Scripture is silent on this score, but I picture Joseph helping his wife with the birth — and being first to hold their wondrous child.

About a year later, Joseph had another dream, and his faith again saved the day.

This time, the angel had a warning: “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt … for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.”

Surely it was difficult getting the family safely to Egypt, which was about 40 miles away — a tremendous distance back then.

But Joseph’s perseverance — and willingness to make sacrifices — saved the Christ child from Herod’s bloody plot.

As Christmas draws nearer, I like standing before a statue of St. Joseph, who’s holding the hand of his little boy. What a role model he was for this child!

He was a man of deep faith and compassion, who faithfully protected his family.

True, he isn’t praised in Christmas carols — and never says a word in Scripture. Still, in his own quiet way, he changed the world forever.

Lorraine Murray’s latest cozy, church mystery is “Death Dons a Mask,” available online. Her email is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

TV best bets with ‘Game of Thrones’ season finale, MTV Video Awards, Whitney Houston, ‘The Tick’
TV best bets with ‘Game of Thrones’ season finale, MTV Video Awards, Whitney Houston, ‘The Tick’

Singer Whitney Houston is seen performing on stage during the 2004 World Music Awards at the Thomas and Mack Center on September 15, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) This was posted on Sunday, August 20, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog On Sunday, HBO concludes...
The Eagles (sans Glenn Frey) adds 2nd date in Atlanta at Philips Arena
The Eagles (sans Glenn Frey) adds 2nd date in Atlanta at Philips Arena

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 15: Musician Don Henley (3rd from R) of the Eagles accepts the band’s 1977 Record of the Year award for “Hotel California” onstage from National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences President Neil Portnow (2nd from R) and broadcast producer Ken Ehrlich (R) during The...
Civil rights activist, comic legend Dick Gregory (1932-2017) has passed
Civil rights activist, comic legend Dick Gregory (1932-2017) has passed

CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 11: Dick Gregory attends the Roger Ebert Memorial Tribute at Chicago Theatre on April 11, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images) This was posted on Saturday, August 19, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk Civil rights activist and comic Dick Gregory ...
Why are people still racist? What science says about America's race problem.
Why are people still racist? What science says about America's race problem.

Torch-bearing white supremacists shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans. Protesters and counter protesters colliding with violence and chaos. A car driven by a known Nazi sympathizer mowing down a crowd of activists. Many Americans responded to this weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, with disbelieving horror. How could this happen in...
New biography about David Bowie reveals details of his wild life
New biography about David Bowie reveals details of his wild life

An upcoming biography of David Bowie reveals new details about the singer’s life, including some strange propositions, NME reported. “David Bowie: A Life” will be released Sept. 12. Written by Dylan Jones, the biography is described as “intimate a portrait as may ever be drawn” about Bowie, who died Jan. 11, 2016, after...
More Stories