It’s almost surprising that the title Guardian of the Redeemer was given to Joseph only recently since he has always been considered the protector of the Holy Family. However, he was specially called only the Guardian of the Virgin until now.
Guardian is a very fitting term for Joseph. A guardian is defined as “a person who looks after and is legally responsible for someone who is unable to manage their own affairs, especially an incompetent or disabled person or a child whose parents have died.” Now while Jesus was hardly incompetent and he wasn’t an orphan, he didn’t have an earthly father. Joseph stepped into that role, becoming legally responsible for the child Jesus, and looking after him until he became an adult.
It’s unlikely that Joseph had any idea of exactly who Jesus was or what role he would play in world history. The angel gave Joseph some insight, but not a crystal ball to see the future. So, like all parents and guardians, Joseph had to figure it out day by day.
His first protective act was to get Jesus far away from the murderous Herod, but he undoubtedly performed many other protective acts on a smaller scale—like teaching Jesus how to move stones without hurting himself or how to defend himself against the rich and famous who wanted to take advantage of someone who came from a rural village. Like any good father and guardian, he would have made seeing that Jesus grew up to be a good man to be his primary role.
And what a great role that was. Without Joseph as his guardian, Jesus would have undoubtedly fulfilled his Father-given mission, but it would have been much harder.
“Joseph . . . always knew that his child was not his own but had merely been entrusted to his care.” –Pope Francis
Saint Joseph, may I always treat as sacred duty the care and education of children who are entrusted to me, be it for an hour, a day, or an entire childhood.
Image credit: Laurent LARCHER/CIRIC