St. Joseph tends to get lost in the background, unless it’s Advent. During Advent, we sometimes consider the “outcome of his faith and way of life”, as the writer to the Hebrews says, but the rest of the time, we don’t really notice him. We don’t even pay that much attention to him at Christmas — all the focus is on the Child in the manger and His virgin Mother, both of whom are signs that the Lord’s grace has now come to sinful man (cf. Isa 7).
It’s fitting, in a way. As husband and father, St. Joseph would have experienced what many Christian men do: that their lives become wrapped up in acts of service, big and small, to the woman God has put in his arms, and the children whom God has given him to raise. St. Joseph would have worked hard at his job, taught his Son the Scriptures, made sure that his family worshipped in the house of God regularly, and cared for his wife, in all the multitude of ways that married life offers. A lifetime — a very satisfying one, for the man who is a child of God — can be made out of such countless small acts of service.
And occasionally we husbands and fathers are called upon to do more. Imagine the shock and the stress, after the wonder of his adoptive Son’s birth, to find out that King Herod wanted to slaughter the Child. They had to rise up in the night, hastily pack a few things — and leave. St. Joseph, a man more used to the quiet routine of workshop, home, and synagogue, was forced to lead his family far away, down to Egypt. But he did it. He was not a military man, and may certainly have had his doubts about his ability to keep them safe, but he did his best — and in the Lord’s hands, it was enough. St. Joseph was the Lord’s chosen instrument to keep His Son safely through infancy and on into early adulthood.
St. Joseph is a worthy model for Christian husbands and fathers today. His life, as recorded in Scripture, offers much for us to reflect on and emulate.