The greatness of Saint Joseph is that he was the spouse of Mary and the father of Jesus. In this way, he placed himself, in the words of Saint John Chrysostom, “at the service of the entire plan of salvation”. [In Matthaeum Homiliae, V, 3: PG 57, 58]
In other words, greatness in the eyes of God is conferred by one’s reference to others, in service. Certainly not an ego trip.
If we couldn’t complete a “novena” before Father’s Day, maybe hitting the opening of the document this weekend will suffice. A recent pope gives testimony:
Saint Paul VI pointed out that Joseph concretely expressed his fatherhood “by making his life a sacrificial service to the mystery of the incarnation and its redemptive purpose. He employed his legal authority over the Holy Family to devote himself completely to them in his life and work. He turned his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of himself, his heart and all his abilities, a love placed at the service of the Messiah who was growing to maturity in his home”. [Homily (19 March 1966): Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, IV (1966), 110.]
Notice two things. The expression of patriarchy as “a sacrificial service.” You might think that a wider expression of fatherhood in that vein would mute many concerns in modern society. Consider also the comment on authority. Godly authority leads to providing for those in one’s care. Being a father is not a state of opportunity, even an exchange of serving in return for being served. While not all fathers nurture the Divine Messiah in their homes, the treatment of innocents is certainly something that catches God’s watchful eye.
Next up in this opening paragraph: how saints and believers have seen Saint Joseph in the Christian Era.