On March 19 we remember Joseph the Guardian of Jesus.
Here is a list of interesting facts you might not have known about Joseph. Think about sharing them in Sunday school, Bible forums and home devotions.
- 1. He was married to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and is mentioned only in the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke. Joseph is not mentioned in the book of Mark.
- 2. His feast day is celebrated March 19 in the Roman Catholic Church. This date was set in the 10th century. It is the day that Lutherans commemorate Joseph the Guardian of Jesus.
- 3. None of the Gospels mentions Joseph as being at any event during Jesus’ adult ministry. The last time he is mentioned in the Bible was on the visit to Jerusalem when Jesus was 12.
- 4. In Italian and Polish communities Joseph’s Day takes an important place on the calendar. It is customary to attend “Joseph Tables,” events that feature an abundance of elaborate food including meatless dishes such as stuffed artichokes, pasta and fish, as well as breads, cookies, pastries, cakes and other delicacies. An Italian tradition called “Tupa Tupa” consists of three children knocking on three doors asking for shelter. The “family” is refused at the first two doors but welcomed at the third. This in memory of Mary and Joseph seeking hospitality before the birth of Jesus.
- 5. St. Joseph’s Day dates back to the Middle Ages.
- 6. Joseph is known in many cultures for his “hospitality” in taking in Jesus as his own son and raising him. A man of principal, Joseph did not intend to publically break his engagement to Mary when she came to him with the news of her pregnancy. He was determined to do it in such a way that it would not bring shame to her.
- 7. Joseph does not speak in the Bible, not a single word of his is written.
- 8. We learn from the genealogies in Matthew and Luke that Joseph was a “tekton” (in Greek) or “faber” (in Latin) — a carpenter, a worker in wood or stone. The Greek term suggests an “artisan” with wood in general, or an artisan in iron or stone. Joseph was of the “house and family” of King David. This is only recorded in the book of Matthew.
- 9. Joseph was a dreamer. Matthew records four dreams where Joseph is supernaturally instructed. In the first dream an angel confirms to Joseph that Mary is pregnant, that the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit, that the child will be a son to be named Jesus. In the second dream an angel tells Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt because Herod was determined to kill the child. In a third dream an angel tells Joseph to return his family to Israel with the implication that Herod had died. In the fourth dream God warns Joseph to avoid returning to Judea or Bethlehem. Joseph takes Mary and Jesus to Nazareth.
- 10. May 1 is another day for celebrating Joseph when he is remembered as a patron of workers.
- 11. Because of his association with hospitality, St. Joseph is a popular name for hospitals.
You may want to end your discussion with this prayer from “Bread for the Day: Daily Bible Readings and Prayers for 2013,” which is published by Augsburg Fortress.
O God, from the family of your servant David you raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the husband of his blessed mother. Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
You might also want to read:
Joseph, the role model
Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter comes to life
In search of hospitality