It’s no surprise that St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of Fathers. The husband of Mary and father of Jesus could give a master class in fatherhood, what with his exemplary behavior and attitude during the most trying of circumstances.
Indeed, it wasn’t easy being a father to the Son of God, but Joseph took on the role with utter humility and grace. Here are three ways this most admirable of fathers handled the challenging task:
#1: Joseph Submitted to God’s Will
When Joseph found out Mary was with child after they were engaged, he knew the baby wasn’t his— yet he didn’t just leave her in the lurch, either. Rather, he considered how Mary would be publicly disgraced for her sensitive condition. The plan was to send her away and quietly divorce her.
That is, until an angel appeared, telling him to take Mary as his wife. “Because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins,” said the angel.
Good husband and father that he was, Joseph did as he was told, and the rest, as they say, is history. (Read: 4 Lessons From Mary and Joseph on the First Christmas)
#2: Joseph Did Everything to Protect His Family
Despite the unusual circumstances of his brood— his wife Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit, and his son Jesus is actually the Son of God— Joseph loved his family dearly and did his best to protect them, even if it meant setting his personal interests aside.
Following the advice of an angel who came to him in a dream, Joseph “got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left [from Bethlehem] for Egypt.” (Read: Meet the Three Archangels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael)
There, they stayed until the death of Herod, who had earlier set out orders to kill young boys two years old and under.
#3: Joseph Loved Jesus as His Own Son
Yes, there’s no topping God the Father, but under his watch, Joseph regarded Jesus as his own flesh and blood. (Read: What Foods Did the Holy Family Eat Back in the Day?)
Realizing they had lost him as they were on their way home from Passover, he and Mary returned to Jerusalem and searched for their then 12-year-old son. Three days later they found him conversing among teachers.
“Why were you searching for me,” young Jesus asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” It was a statement neither Mary nor Joseph understood.
Joseph was also thought to have shared his carpentry skills with Jesus, and numerous artists have created touching renditions of father and son working side by side. The two were apparently so close that people have regarded Jesus as “the carpenter’s son.”