Yandex Metrika
A God-Chosen Actor in the Salvation of Mankind

St Joseph the Betrothed, the Earthly Guardian of Christ and His Mother

Joseph the Betrothed

In the first days after the Nativity, the Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of all the righteous people through whom the Lord acted to bring His son into the world. Of them, Joseph the Betrothed was one. He was the God-chosen earthly guardian of the Virgin Mary and her son. Not only did he fulfil his role with humble obedience and great diligence, but he also set an example of unwavering faith and complete trust in the will of God.

He came from a noble lineage. He was a descendant of David the King and a close relative of James the Brother of the Lord. Yet he earned his bread doing the hard work of a carpenter, which in those times involved cutting down by hand large trees, shaping the trunks into lumber and building objects, by fixing the heavy pieces of lumber together without any nails. He lived a long life. By the time he was betrothed to the Virgin Mary, he was eighty, and a widower of many years. He had six grownup male children, and possibly an unknown number of daughters. As indicated in the Lives of the Saints by St. Dmitry of Rostov, he lived to be 110, dying wen when Christ began his ministry among the people.

The Virgin Mary's parents Joachim and Anna had dedicated her to God, and she grew up at the temple. According to the Jewish custom, young women who could not stay in the temple either returned to their families or married and raised their families. Both options were closed to the Virgin Mary. She could not go back to her parents because they were already dead, and she had taken the vow of virginity, which excluded marriage. The Jewish elders prayed to God to help them choose the guardian for Mary, and the choice fell on Joseph.

As the betrothed of Mary, he assumed responsibility for her protection from the dangers of this world. When he found that Mary was pregnant, he took it to be the fruit of a youthful romance and resolved to let her go secretly to spare her from public condemnation. But he listened to an angel who told him the child was the fruit of Mary's righteousness; God chose her to bear the Saviour of all people. After the infant was born, the angel again instructed Joseph to take Mary and the child to Egypt to save them from the fury of King Herod. He listened and took the long and perilous journey, trusting their faith in the Lord. That way, Joseph became the first convert to Christ, an example of obedience to God's will and a man with the angelic calling.

Answering this calling, he performed the role of messenger of God himself, in Egypt and Israel when he returned there. Even after his death, he descended into Hades to forewarn its righteous prisoners of their soon-to-come freedom from captivity with the descent of Jesus Christ.

January 09, 2024
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