Catholic Classroom: St. Joseph
Question: Is St. Joseph Jesus’ father?
Scripture tells us that Jesus’ parents are Mary and Joseph. We know that Mary is the Mother of God who gave birth to the child Jesus. But we also know that Mary was a virgin both before and after Jesus’ birth. She conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18), meaning that Jesus did not have a biological father in the traditional sense. He is the Son of God the Father. How, then, can we call St. Joseph Jesus’ father?
Describing Joseph as Jesus’ father in no way diminishes the understanding of Mary as the virgin Mother of God. When Christians call Joseph the father of Jesus, they mean that Joseph was his foster father, not his biological father. As the spouse of Mary, Joseph had a special responsibility to provide for and protect the Holy Family. By answering the angel’s call to take Mary into his home as his wife and to give Jesus his name (Matthew 1:20-25), Joseph was essentially consenting to become Jesus’ legal father by adoption.
Tradition tells us that Joseph raised Jesus as his son. He was responsible for all the traditional tasks of a Jewish father of that time, and he observed these tasks by keeping Jesus and Mary safe, observing religious customs as the head of his family, and teaching Jesus the trade of carpentry. In every sense except biologically, Joseph served as a father to Jesus.
Today, we pray that we too may answer God’s call with humble and pious obedience, no matter what that call may be. St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus and patron of the Universal Church, pray for us!