By Delia Mundy
"St Joseph was chosen among all men, to be the protector and guardian of the Virgin Mother of God; the defender and foster father of the Infant God, and the only cooperator upon earth, the one confidant of the secret of God in the work of the redemption of mankind." - St. Bernard.
The true worth and excellence of the privileges granted to St. Joseph cannot be fully understood or appreciated this side of heaven. To form some idea of them, we must consider the words of the. Evangelist, "And He was subject to them." The Son of God obeyed Joseph and Marry for thirty years! This humble obedience of Jesus teaches us that the dignity of Joseph is above that of all the other saints, except that of the Queen of Saints.
Our Lady revealed to St. Bridget that St. Joseph often said these beautiful words. "Heaven grant that I may live so as to accomplish the will of my God." The Holy Virgin also added, "Therefore it is that the glory of St. Joseph is now so great."
Theologians teach that the amount of grace acquired in this life is the measure of the glory to be received in heaven. If this is so, we may be sure that St. Joseph's place in heaven is an extremely high one. St. Paul explains that it is a fundamental law of God, that when He chooses a person to accomplish any great work the grace necessary to the task will be given.
In order to appreciate the divine favours granted to St. Joseph, we must reflect on the graces he was given and the confidence placed in him by the three Divine Persons.
God the Father gave him his Son-making him master of His only Son;
God the Son gives Himself in Person to him — to be directed by him and to obey him;
God the Holy Spirit confides to him His Spouse, Mary, to be her guardian and as head of the family of God
Gerson believed that St. Joseph resembled Our Lord perfectly, in order to avoid any slur to Himself or to Our Lady. He was also not old, as some pictures show, as this could not have been fitting as a father and husband.
It is interesting to note the parallels between the privileges granted to St. Joseph and those granted to the other saints.
The saints of the Old Testament
Moses-greatly desired to see God, but only enjoyed this happiness for a short while on Mount Tabor
Abraham-saw in a vision, as if in a flash, the coming of the Saviour on earth.
St. Joseph -- carried Him in his arms, called Him his son, hears himself called father by the Infant God.
The Apostle Peter
St. Peter received extensive powers from Jesus.
The keys of heaven, care of the whole Church and the title of Vicar of Christ.
To St. Joseph himself the ‘doors’ themselves were confided, since we may say that Jesus and Mary are the two living gates of Paradise.
St. John the Baptist and St. John the Apostle
These two saints were greatly favoured. One was beloved of his Master and the other announced and baptized his Lord. They both received very special graces and are exalted above the greatest saints. In Matthew 11: 10 we read the words from the Old Testament referring to St. John the Baptist, "Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee."
St. Joseph's glorious role as Protector of the Holy Family and foster father of the Infant Jesus is beautifully recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke, “And Jesus Himself was beginning about the age of thirty years; being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph."
St. Bernadin of Siena, Suarez and many learned authors hold the opinion that St. Joseph and Our Lady are, body and soul, together with Jesus in the life of glory in the same way that they were together while on earth. Many theologians, as well as St. Bernadin, believe that the Holy Family occupy, the highest rank in the Church triumphant and form a trinity of their own in a hierarchy apart. It is also said that St. Joseph is in heaven body and soul, having followed after Our Lord, with other saints, on Ascension Day.
We sometimes ask who the greatest saint is. In the Scriptures we read in Luke 7:28 the following,
"For I say to you, amongst those that are born of woman, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist. But he that is the lesser in the kingdom of God, is greater than he," Also in Luke 22:23 with reference to the Apostles themselves, "And there was also a strife amongst them, which of them should seem to be the greater."
We would all like to know the answer, or at least have a convincing explanation if possible. It may be better to consider that all the saints, great or small, have accomplished the will of God Who in His Mercy grants us their assistance in the Communion of Saints.
St. Theresa of Avila sans that she does not remember ever having asked St. Joseph a single grace, for body or soul, which was not granted. St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, believed and taught that while God gives to other saints the power to help us In certain needs, St. Joseph has the privilege of helping us in all circumstances.
If you have offended God, ‘seek am sorrowing’ with Mary and Joseph, who were so greatly grieved thinking that they had offended Him and thought themselves unworthy to have the care of so great a treasure. Although St Joseph's humility prevents him from commanding Our Lord, Jesus accepts his prayers as paternal commands and grants all that he requests.
"Go to Joseph" with confidence that this quiet saint, in his paternal kindness, will obtain your petitions, because He made him the Lord of His household and Prince over all His possessions.