St Joseph is not a prominent figure in the Gospels – no words of his are recorded in them, and, apart from the narratives surrounding Jesus’ birth in Matthew and Luke (going up to the finding in the temple), there is no mention of him apart from a few references to Jesus as ‘son of Joseph’. And yet, from those few glimpses we get of him – his concern for the well-being of his fiancée when he hears she’s pregnant, his taking Mary and her baby Jesus to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod, his sharing of Mary’s concern as they hunted for Jesus in Jerusalem – we see a man who quietly but persistently does his duty. For St Joseph, of course, that duty was the extraordinary one of caring for the Incarnate Son of God and his blessed Mother as Jesus grew up, but in it, the Church has recognised the significance Our Lord’s having a human family has given to our ordinary human family life, the life of work and everyday concerns which was St Joseph’s, and in which we are called to live out our Christian faith.
Today, of course, we think also of our new Pope Francis, whose ministry as the Bishop of Rome is officially inaugurated today; and indeed, the humble, ever faithful example of St Joseph, caring for the boy Jesus, is a very fitting one with which to assume the role of servus servorum Dei, of service to the universal Church which is the Body of Christ. By the intercession of St Joseph, may the Lord bless Pope Francis for the great responsibilities of his office, and preserve in him the faithful humility which he granted to the man who was assumed to be the father of Jesus.