The final new title given to Saint Joseph, Patron of the Poor, brings us to an issue we’ve discussed before. Just how poor were Mary and Joseph?
When we talked about Joseph being a skilled artisan, a tekton, we mentioned that if he couldn’t provide a decent living for his family, he wouldn’t have been a particularly good provider and thus not a role model for workers. Moreover, when we looked at the visit of the Magi and their extremely valuable gifts, we noted that if he and Mary couldn’t have used those resources wisely, they hardly would have been good stewards.
We must conclude that Joseph wasn’t a poor man in the sense of a destitute beggar who couldn’t provide food and shelter for his family, but rather an ordinary man. He was poor in the sense that he was not part of the wealthy, elite class, not because he and Mary and Jesus dressed in rags and sat at the town well asking for handouts.
When we think of poor in those terms, it becomes much easier to understand why Joseph is the patron of the poor. Most of us are poor in the sense we live a normal life. We don’t have private jets or yachts. We don’t live in mansions with twenty-five bathrooms. We don’t wear designer fashions. Compared to the truly wealthy, we are, indeed, poor.
This new title of Joseph helps us understand that God does not judge us on our material wealth. God did not choose someone who was a member of the elite to be the earthly father of Jesus; he chose a regular dude instead. May this title of Joseph remind us that if we are lucky enough to be rich, we have a duty to share our wealth with those who are truly poor, so that all people can have a decent standard of living
“What is crucially important here is the sanctification of daily life, a sanctification which each person must acquire according to his or her own state, and one which can be promoted according to a model accessible to all people: ‘St. Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies; . . . he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need of great things—it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic.’” –Saint John Paul II
Saint Joseph, help me to be grateful for all that I have in life and open to sharing my material blessings with those who are less fortunate. Amen.
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