Today is the Feast of St. Joseph. He is special to us because he was special to Jesus.
I would like to reflect on a title from the Litany of St. Joseph, Lover of Poverty. As Catholics, Jesus teaches that we are to be poor in spirit. St. Joseph is a wonderful example of this poverty.
We have to assume that Joseph was busy with his profession. He went about his day caring for the Infant Child and Mary. He provided for their well-being and nourishment. He had a home, tools, hobbies, and all the ordinary things that a man in his day and day time needed to have. He would have known that his property was meant for his holiness and the holiness of others. He knew his ownership of property stopped at the point that God willed. He knew that property is ultimately a gift from the Creator. He would have known the story of Job and that the Father gives and takes away.
The Gospel of S. Matthew mentions St. Joseph and his character of living in poverty of spirit.
“When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’ Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’” Mt. 2:13-15
Notice that Joseph was sleeping when the angel of the Lord appeared to him. The angel met him during an ordinary event of sleeping. The angel informs Joseph to take Jesus and Mary and he goes. He does not hesitate. He does not stop and consider the huge sacrifice and danger this trip is going to be. He does not fear death. He trusts in the Lord and His provisions. He is not attached to the things that he owns. He leaves them and takes only what would be necessary and could be carried for a long journey. All his earthly possessions are nothing compared to the task of protecting the God Child and His Mother.
There are times in our own life that the Lord calls us to leave our homeland and flee for an Egypt. We may have to leave behind things we like for our own safety. Like Joseph, we need to be ready. It may not be when we are 20 or 50 years old. But it will definitely be at our death. Like Jesus, who went to Egypt to escape danger and to fulfill his own exodus out, we will also have the option of fleeing our Egypt if we choose. It is also St. Joseph that will help us at that moment as he is Patron of the Dying. We ask his intercession for a happy death.
For more on this topic, the reading from the Gospel and commentary on Jesus’ exodus comes from this source.