So, who is Joseph?
The Bible tells us that Joseph was a “just man” (see Matthew 1:19). Several legends state that Joseph was selected to be Mary’s husband after his staff “blossomed”—a sign from God that he had chosen the young man for this responsibility. (This is why many statues of St. Joseph depict him carrying a staff topped with lilies or other flowers in bloom.) In any case, the Scriptures only tell us that Mary was engaged to Joseph, and that it was in the months before the wedding was solemnized and they lived together that Mary was visited by an angel. “Do not be afraid,” the angel Gabriel said. “You are loved by God, and you will be the mother of God’s Son” (cf. Lk 1:28-38).
Mary went off to visit her cousin Elizabeth. After she returned Joseph (and her parents I am sure) noticed that she was with child. This was a difficult time for Joseph because he knew it was not his child. The Israelite law said that such women were to be stoned. But he still loved her. In the end it was another angel that put an end to his wrestling with the situation. The angel told him that the child was the Son of the God and that when he was born he should give him the name Jesus.
So this was the exciting beginning to Joseph’s life as it appears in the Scriptures. He appears a few more times. He is there when Jesus is born, finding only a stable in the overcrowded city of Bethlehem for Mary the night Jesus was born. He is the strong figure who escapes with Mary and Jesus when the Roman King Herod is trying to kill Jesus. And he appears one more time, twelve years later, when Jesus remains behind in Jerusalem when his parents leave to return home after the Passover Celebration.
Though Joseph shows up in the Scripture, he never says a word. He is the strong silent husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus who even today cares for those who turn to him for help in any of their own life’s emergencies.