Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately.

– St Matthew 1:19

Joseph and Mary were dwelling in Nazareth; they were not yet living together, because they were not yet married. In the meantime, Mary, after having welcomed the Angel’s announcement, came to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit. When Joseph realized this, he was bewildered. The Gospel does not explain what his thoughts were, but it does tell us the essential: he seeks to do the will of God and is ready for the most radical renunciation. Rather than defending himself and asserting his rights, Joseph chooses what for him is an enormous sacrifice. And the Gospel tells us: “Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly” (Matthew 1:19).

This brief sentence reveals a true inner drama if we think about the love that Joseph had for Mary! But even in these circumstances, Joseph intends to do the will of God and decides, surely with great sorrow, to send Mary away quietly. We need to meditate on these words in order to understand the great trial that Joseph had to endure in the days preceding Jesus’ birth. It was a trial similar to the sacrifice of Abraham, when God asked him for his son Isaac (cf. Gen 22): to give up what was most precious, the person most beloved.

– Pope Francis


The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head. – St. Luke 9:58

As guardian of the mystery "hidden for ages in the mind of God” (Ephesians 3:9), which begins to unfold before his eyes “in the fullness of time" (Galatians 4:4-7), Joseph, together with Mary, is a privileged witness to the birth of the Son of God into the world on Christmas night in Bethlehem. Luke writes:

"And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" – St. Luke 2:6-7

Joseph was an eyewitness to this birth, which took place in conditions that, humanly speaking, were embarrassing – a first announcement of that "self-emptying" (Philippians 2:5-8) which Christ freely accepted for the forgiveness of sins.

– Pope St. John Paul II


And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.  – St. Luke 2:34-35


The holy spouse Saint Joseph was, by these prophecies, made to see many of the mysteries of the Redemption and of the labors and sufferings of Jesus. … However Saint Joseph was not to be an eyewitness of them during his mortal life.

– Venerable Maria de Agreda

... behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: “Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him.” Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod. … Then Herod had killed all boys that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under.– St. Matthew 2:13-16

How much St Joseph must have suffered on the journey into Egypt in seeing the sufferings of Jesus and Mary! … Joseph was indeed conformed in all things to the will of the Eternal Father, but his tender and loving heart could not but feel pain in seeing the Son of God trembling and weeping from cold and the other hardships which he experienced on that hard journey. – St. Alphonsus Liguori


Joseph guarded from death the Child threatened by a monarch's jealousy, and found for Him a refuge; in the miseries of the journey and in the bitterness of exile he was ever the companion, the assistance, and the upholder of the Virgin and of Jesus. Pope Leo XIII

And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the Pasch, and when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him.  St. Luke 2:41-45


Most holy Mary and St. Joseph found themselves overwhelmed with self-reproach at their remissness in watching over their most holy Son and thus blamed themselves for His absence… and with deepest sorrow took counsel with each other as to what was to be done.

– Venerable Maria de Agreda