So it turns out that this annunciation to Joseph ends exactly as the annunciation to Mary does, with the recipients of the message doing just as they had been asked. Once again, though, Mary gets the line: "Be it done unto me according to your word." Joseph just did as he had been asked. Later on, when Joseph had probably already died, Mary will tell the servants at the wedding feast of Cana at the beginning of her son's public life: "Do whatever he tells you." Jesus would tell his followers to pray in the Lord's prayer, "Thy will be done." And that's how Joseph always acted, even if he didn't entirely understand God's holy will.
Blessed Pius IX proclaimed him patron of the Universal Church. He is the patron saint of everyone named Joseph or Jose or Giuseppe, so that includes Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), Saint Josemaria Escriva, and many others. (You, too, Joey!) Blessed John XXIII included St. Joseph's name in the Roman Canon, and St. Teresa of Avila called him "father and lord." He may not talk, but his virtuous actions speak louder than words.
He was a refugee from persecution, an immigrant on foreign soil, a manual laborer, a righteous man, a husband, a virgin, a stepfather, a family man, a protector, someone most likely poor (which would explain why there was "no room in the inn"). And the greatest saint after St. Mary, with whom he shared an incomparable intimacy with Jesus, the son of God.
Dwight G. Duncan is professor at UMass School of Law Dartmouth. He holds degrees in both civil and canon law.
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