Fr. James Martin, S.J.: Why do we always forget about Joseph?

Photo by Michael O'Sullivan on Unsplash

Subscribe to “The Examen” for free on Apple Podcasts


Subscribe to “The Examen” for free on Google Play

Join our Patreon Community

During the Advent and Christmas seasons, we tend think a great deal about Mary. Also, with feasts like the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe she is very much on our mind. It's right to think about the Blessed Mother during this beautiful liturgical season. Obviously, Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of God, is the second most important person in the Christmas story. But let's not forget about St. Joseph, who played an absolutely essential role in the Infancy Narratives, and in the life of Christ.

Joseph tends to be the forgotten man of Advent and Christmas. He’s given no lines to speak in the whole New Testament, and we don’t even know what happened to him after Jesus reached adulthood. Unlike Mary, he’s not present at the Wedding Feast of Cana or the Crucifixion, so it seems likely he had already died. In his simple life in Nazareth Joseph did ordinary things: he works as a carpenter, he is a husband to Mary and a father to Jesus. Yet in those ordinary things he ends up doing something extraordinary. As the Jesuit theologian John Haughey said, he helps to fashion Jesus in to the instrument needed for the world’s salvation.

Maybe this week you could pray to Joseph and ask him to help you see the things in your daily life that seem ordinary to you, but are ways that you have of helping others, of loving others and of responding to the call of the young man whom Joseph helped to raise.

[Don’t miss any of the latest writings, podcasts and videos from Father Martin. Sign up for his newsletter.]

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
6 months ago

Yet, we have a lot of Joes. Still in the top 20 names for babies in the US.

Oswald Rollo
6 months ago

There is no doubt that St. Joseph is a senior figure in Jesus’ life, our family try to bear this in mind every Christmas. Also, I don’t forget to help others in my college class and express my readiness to provide an evaluation essay outline or any homework assistance

Michael Barberi
6 months ago

Thanks Fr. Martin....a great Examen prayer as well.

Crystal Watson
6 months ago

What I especially like about the movie "Jesus" is that Joseph was an important character in the film. There was a scene where he and the adult Jesus went off on a carpentry job together to the house of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

Johnny Schaefer
6 months ago

I actually wrote a song from Joseph's perspective

Tom Schneck
5 months 4 weeks ago

One of my favorite pieces of statuary art is at American Martyrs School in Manhattan Beach, CA showing Joseph and Mary playing/dancing ring-around with Jesus, about age 5. It speaks to whether that Holy Family had fun times. To be human, surely they did and Joseph helped create some fun for Jesus.

Phillip Stone
5 months 3 weeks ago

"Why do we always forget Joseph?"
Speak for yourself. Try and get this clear, your use of the royal plural is unwelcome.

More: Saints / Prayer / Advent

The latest from america

It is tempting to want to change the words of the 2011 Roman Missal. But we shouldn't—part of the point of ritual is its seeming changelessness.
Terrance KleinJune 17, 2019
The site of Clemens Field baseball stadium in Hannibal, Mo., near the Mississippi River, on May 31.  (Jake Shane/Quincy Herald-Whig via AP)
This spring’s floods devastated farming and rural communities in the middle of the U.S. that were already struggling with economic and social decline, writes Nathan Beacom. But ”blue” America may find it difficult to sympathize.
Nathan BeacomJune 17, 2019
Augustinian Father Miguel Angel Cadenas baptizes a young man June 12, in a village along the Urituyacu River in Peru.
While this proposal may draw most media attention, it should not be allowed to eclipse other significant aspects in the document, including the church’s strong commitment to work for justice for indigenous people and the protection of the environment.
Gerard O’ConnellJune 17, 2019
On June 17, 2015, a 23-year-old white supremacist killed nine African-Americans during a Bible study at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church.
John AndersonJune 14, 2019