MASTRANGELO: St. Joseph is an example of all men to be fathers

March 14, 2023

A statue of St. Joseph is seen at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Houston. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

I grew up in a dysfunctional family; however, one thing my parents did give me was a sense of faith and a duty to the Church. But that wasn’t enough. I needed more. Eventually, God showed me what I was missing through St. Joseph and men that lived up to his example as a father to a boy that was not his son.

Even with so little written in Scripture about St. Joseph, there is so much to tease out. How God called St. Joseph is how He is calling all men.
First, God calls us to righteousness — to follow not only the letter of the law but the spirit of the law. We know this because St. Joseph decided to divorce Mary in quiet versus having her stoned for perceived infidelity (Mt 1:19-25). The letter of the law says Mary should be stoned for infidelity.

However, probably in his heart, he knew something was different and decided something different should be done. His well-formed conscience helped him. This is a hard first step, I know. But I have good news for you. He has given us all free help! Help found in the Scriptures, Sacraments, community and prayer are all tools that God has given us to help us be righteous for the Kingdom of God. We need this help to discern the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law, like St. Joseph.

Second, Joseph is called the “Son of David.” David was the King of the Israelites. He was from a royal line. We are all sons of the Father. Through our adopted sonship with the Father, we are related to the King and thus are coheirs through Jesus Christ. There is nothing for us to do; we just need to accept that God has lifted us up.

Third, Joseph responded immediately to the message he received when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. God wants us to respond immediately to His promptings. Maybe it is a dream. Maybe it is just a feeling. Maybe it is a gut reaction. Whatever way He prompts us, we are to respond immediately, especially if it is to aid another.

Fourth, Joseph was a carpenter. Later in the Gospel of Matthew (15:55), Jesus is called “the carpenter’s son.” God is calling us to work for the Kingdom here on Earth. Do not become lazy. Get up and create something that can be useful for others. It may be in your job, or it may just be a hobby. But God created you to create! When we create with our hands, we participate in God the Father’s creation. We are co-creating the Kingdom of heaven with Him here on Earth.

Fifth, we learn in the Gospel of John that Joseph is from Nazareth, “Phillip found Nathanael and told him, ‘Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ But Nathanael said, ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth?’”

We also learn what people thought of Nazareth at that time. So, it doesn’t matter where you are from or your background; He is calling you! When I first started to get involved in ministry, I used to joke, “I’m from Tomball, Texas, and we really don’t know how things work in the big city.” It didn’t matter where I was from or that I came from a broken family.

What mattered was that I showed up and did the job.

Finally, above all things, Joseph took on the role of the foster father of Jesus. God calls men to be fathers to the fatherless. Jesus had a Father in Heaven, but God the Father knew it was important, even necessary, for Him to have an earthly father. God revealed this to me through St. Joseph and some men that modeled their lives after him. When I needed a father, I had men to be a father for me.

As you can see, there is so much to learn from St. Joseph. Should you want to learn more, I suggest a book by Dr. Mark Miravalle, Meet Your Spiritual Father: A Brief Introduction to St. Joseph.

Joseph Mastrangelo, owner and roaster of Zelie Beans Coffee, is a former youth minister of the Archdiocese.