Colossians 3:18-20Wives, be subject to your husbands,
as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh
with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican Gardens, 5 July 2010: The Gospel, as we know, has not kept any word from Joseph, who carries out his activity in silence. It is the style that characterizes his whole existence, both before finding himself before the mystery of God's action in his spouse, as well as when - conscious of this mystery - he is with Mary in the Nativity. On that holy night, in Bethlehem, with Mary and the Child, is Joseph, to whom the Heavenly Father entrusted the daily care of his Son on earth, a care carried out with humility and in silence.


St Luke 2:21And when eight days were fulfilled for his circumcision, his name was called Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  

j. rodrigues: Eight days after the birth of Christ, St Joseph would have the duty to hand the Child over to be circumcised, as was prescribed by the Law. At this ceremony, St Joseph’s heart would offer three hidden sacrifices to the Heavenly Father on behalf of his Son.

The first sacrifice would be the Infant Jesus, though entirely sinless and perfect, assuming the degradation of a sinner.  He did this by submitting himself to the rite of circumcision which was instituted as a form of remedy to make peace between the sinner and the Lord.  St Joseph did not have to submit his Son to this, since Jesus himself had no original sin in him, but out of humility he abided by the Law. Joseph offered up the humility of the Divine Child.

The second offering of St Joseph was the willingness to allow Christ to suffer the pain of the circumcision.  This first cut into the tender flesh of the Jesus would be for him his first physical suffering at the hands of another, but with St Joseph there to comfort him.  Years later at his Passion, Jesus would not be granted consolation for his pain until he breathed his last. He would be helpless and without comfort.

The third sacrifice at this event would be the shedding of blood - fully displaying the human side of Our Lord. St Joseph would make the first offering of the Most Precious Blood in reparation for the many offences committed against God.

After this sorrowful course, the heart of St Joseph would now be infused with joy as he had just fulfilled his first official act as father in Jewish society.  Since the beginning of time Joseph was chosen, just as Mary was, to play an important role in the history of mankind. Joseph was the first man to utter the name of Our Saviour, his lips having the honour of pronouncing the Most Holy Name of Jesus!  How the Heavens must have rejoiced at this moment as the Name of Salvation was spoken!   


Pope St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Custos: At the circumcision Joseph names the child "Jesus." This is the only name in which there is salvation (Acts 4:12). Its significance had been revealed to Joseph at the moment of his "annunciation": "You shall call the child Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). In conferring the name, Joseph declares his own legal fatherhood over Jesus, and in speaking the name he proclaims the child's mission as Savior.

Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, 19 March 2006: The Gospel of Matthew highlights in a special way the messianic prophecies which found their fulfillment through St. Joseph’s role: the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (2:13-15); the byname "Nazarene" (2:22-23). In all this he showed himself, as his spouse Mary, authentic heir of Abraham’s faith: faith in God who guides the events of history according to His mysterious salvific plan. Joseph’s greatness, like Mary’s, stands out even more because his mission was developed in humility and in the hiddenness of the house of Nazareth. Moreover, God himself, in the person of His incarnate Son, chose this way and style of life in His earthly existence. From the example of St. Joseph we all receive a strong invitation to develop with fidelity, simplicity and modesty, the task that providence has assigned to us. I am thinking above all of fathers and mothers of families, and I pray that they will always be able to appreciate the beauty of a simple and industrious life, cultivating the conjugal relationship with care and fulfilling with enthusiasm the great and not easy educational mission.

Pope Benedict XVI, Yaoundé, Cameroon, 19 March 2009: Each and every one of us has a role to play in the plan of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If discouragement overwhelms you, think of the faith of Joseph; if anxiety has its grip on you, think of the hope of Joseph, that descendant of Abraham who hoped against hope; if exasperation or hatred seizes you, think of the love of Joseph, who was the first man to set eyes on the human face of God in the person of the Infant conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Let us praise and thank Christ for having drawn so close to us, and for giving us Joseph as an example and model of love for Him.

Pope Leo XIII, Quamquam Pluries: St. Joseph set himself to protect, with a mighty love and a daily solicitude, his spouse and the Divine Infant; regularly by his work he earned what was necessary for the one and the other for nourishment and clothing; he 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.

St. Bernardino of Siena: He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of His greatest treasures, namely, His divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s spouse. He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.’

St. Josemaria Escrivá: There are many good reasons to honor Saint Joseph, and to learn from his life. He was a man of strong faith. He earned a living for his family - Jesus and Mary - with his own hard work... He guarded the purity of the Blessed Virgin, who was his Spouse. And he respected - he loved! - God’s freedom, when God made His choice: not only His choice of Our Lady the Virgin as His Mother, but also His choice of Saint Joseph as the Husband of Holy Mary.

Pope Benedict XVI, Yaoundé, Cameroon, 19 March, 2009: I wish to extend a particular word of encouragement to fathers so that they may take Saint Joseph as their model. He who kept watch over the Son of Man is able to teach them the deepest meaning of their own fatherhood. In the same way, each father receives his children from God, and they are created in God’s own image and likeness. Saint Joseph was the spouse of Mary. In the same way, each father sees himself entrusted with the mystery of womanhood through his own wife. Dear fathers, like Saint Joseph, respect and love your spouse; and by your love and your wise presence, lead your children to God where they must be (Lk 2:49.)

Venerable Pope Paul VI, Homily, 27 March 1969: St. Joseph was a "committed" man, as we might say nowadays. And what commitment! He had total commitment to Mary, the elect of all the women of the earth and of history, always his virgin spouse… and total commitment to Jesus, who was his offspring only by legal descendance, not by the flesh. His were the burdens, the responsibilities, the risks and the labors surrounding the Holy Family. His was the service, the work and the sacrifices, in the shadows of that Gospel picture in which we love to meditate on him; and we are certainly not mistaken, for we all know him now and call him blessed.


St. Josemaria Escrivá: In human life, Joseph was Jesus' master in their daily contact, full of refined affection, glad to deny himself to take better care of Jesus. Isn't that reason enough for us to consider this just man, this holy patriarch, in whom the faith of the old covenant bears fruit, as a master of interior life? Interior life is nothing but continual and direct conversation with Christ, so as to become one with him. And Joseph can tell us many things about Jesus. Therefore, never neglect devotion to him - Ite ad Ioseph: "Go to Joseph" - as Christian tradition puts it in the words of the Old Testament (Genesis 41:55.)

Blessed Pope Pius IX, Quemadmodum Deus: As almighty God appointed Joseph, son of the patriarch Jacob, over all the land of Egypt to save grain for the people, so when the fullness of time had come and He was about to send to earth His only-begotten Son, the Savior of the world, He chose another Joseph, of whom the first had been the type, and He made him the lord and chief of His household and possessions, the guardian of His choicest treasures.

Pope Francis, Audience, 1 May 2013: In the silence of his daily activity, St. Joseph shared with Mary a single, common focal point of attention: Jesus. They accompany and guard, with dedication and tenderness, the growth of the Son of God made man for us, reflecting on everything that happens. In the Gospels, Luke points out twice the attitude of Mary, which is also that of St. Joseph: "She treasured all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (2:19.51).


Pope St. John Paul II, Homily, 19 March 1987: The Church admires the simplicity and the depth of St Joseph’s faith. She admires and venerates his rectitude, his humility, his courage. How many values God entrusted to Joseph in his humble and hidden life as an artisan of Nazareth! He entrusted to him his own eternal Son, who in the house of Joseph embraced all that constitutes the truth of the Son of man. To Joseph God entrusted Mary, her virginity and her maternity – her virginal maternity. He entrusted to him the Holy Family. God entrusted to Joseph what is most holy in the whole history of creation, and that humble man, that carpenter, did not disappoint God’s trust. To the very end he showed himself faithful, thoughtful, provident, solicitous–after the model of the eternal Father Himself.


Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican Gardens, 5 July 2010: Later in the Gospel, Joseph appears in only one more episode, when he goes to Jerusalem and lives the anguish of losing the Son Jesus. St. Luke describes the anxious search and the wonder at finding him in the Temple, but even greater is the astonishment at hearing the mysterious words: "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (St. Luke 2:49). This twofold question of the Son of God helps us to understand the mystery of Joseph's paternity. Reminding his own parents of the primacy of the One he calls "my Father," Jesus affirms the primacy of the will of God over every other will, and reveals to Joseph the profound truth of his role: He too is called to be a disciple of Jesus, dedicating his existence to the service of the Son of God and of the Virgin Mother, in obedience to the Heavenly Father.

Pope Francis, Inaugural Mass, 19 March 2013: In the Gospel of Matthew we hear that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church… How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

St. Alphonsus Liguori: The two disciples, going to Emmaus, (Lk. 24:13-31) were inflamed with divine love by the few moments which they spent in company with our Savior, and by His words. What flames of holy love must not, then, have been enkindled in the heart of St. Joseph, who for thirty years conversed with Jesus Christ, and listened to His words of eternal life; who observed the perfect example which Jesus gave of humility and patience, and saw the promptness with which He obeyed and helped him in his labors, and all that was needed for the household!

Soon after the birth of Our Lord, St. Joseph set out to register his family according to the census of Caesar Augustus. Joseph would have the honour of pronouncing the names of his Blessed Spouse Mary as well as his own saintly name, but most importantly the Most Holy Name of Jesus. To Joseph no name would be sweeter than that of his most treasured gift, his only son.


So who are these “brothers” of the Lord mentioned in the Gospel of St. Matthew and in the Acts of the Apostles? In Chapter 5 the issue of the celibacy of Our Lady and St. Joseph was discussed, so where do these “brothers” fit in?

While He was still speaking to the crowds, His mother and His brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with Him. - St. Matthew 12:46

All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers. - Acts 1:14

In the Roman Catholic Church, Mary is known as the “Blessed Virgin” and when referring to her as such, we are affirming our belief that she was a virgin before the birth of Christ as well as after – throughout the rest of her life. St. Joseph is also seen as virginal and is referred to as Mary’s “Most Chaste Spouse”. There are those who believe that our Holy Couple later had children whom Scripture refers to as the “brethren of the Lord.” In the New Testament, the “brothers” and “sisters” of the Lord are mentioned in the following places: St. Matthew 12:46-50 & 13:55-56, St. Mark 3:31-34, St. Luke 8:19-21, St. John 2:12 & 7:3 and Acts of the Apostles1:14

In the Bible the word “brother” (“adelphos” in Greek) has a wide range of meanings and does not only mean a literal brother, but casts it’s net over a wide range of meanings. The Old Testament shows us that the word “brother” or “kinsmen” could refer to any male relative who has not fathered you as well as cousins, other kinsmen, friends, allies etc... A few examples are listed below:

Genesis 14:14 Lot is referred to as Abraham's "brother" though in actuality he was Abraham's nephew.

Genesis 29:15 Jacob is called the "brother" of his uncle Laban.

1 Chronicles 23:22 Kish and Eleazar were the sons of Mahli. Kis had sons of his own, but Eleazar had only daughters. These daughters married their "brethren," the sons of Kish. These "brethren" were really their cousins, not their biological brothers.

Jeremiah 34:9 Jeremiah refers to not keeping fellow Jews as slaves. These slaves are referred to as "brothers".


At the Annunciation to Mary in the New Testament, when the Archangel Gabriel announced to her that she would conceive a son, she asked him in all humility:

“How shall this happen since I do not know man?” - St. Luke 1:34

Her question tells us that she had made a vow of virginity - even in marriage. If she hadn’t made this vow, she would have taken the angel’s words to mean that she and Joseph would produce a son and wouldn’t have had to ask how this would come about, since it is customary to consummate the marriage and bare children. Though she and St. Joseph were a couple, she told the angel that she did not “know man” (not be having sexual intercourse with Joseph). There would be no reason for her to state that she was a virgin, since naturally she would have given her virginity to her husband to conceive this son, of whom the angel was speaking.


Another example that could support the only-child story is shown to us in the Gospel of St. Luke. In this Gospel, we are told about an event in the late childhood of Jesus:

And His parents were wont to go every year to Jerusalem at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. And after they had fulfilled the days, when they were returning, the boy Jesus remained in Jerusalem, and His parents did not know it. ... And it came to pass that after three days, that they found Him in the temple ...  - St. Luke 2:41-47

In this account, Jesus is almost a man in the eyes of the law, for thirteen is the age at which a Jewish boy reaches manhood. Joseph and Mary had now been husband and wife for twelve years, and yet Jesus is their only child mentioned. Surely if they had not made a vow of chastity, they would have had other children besides Jesus by then. The “brothers and sisters” of Christ would have been mentioned by now, and when would be more appropriate to mention them, than at a family pilgrimage to Jerusalem? Their extended family is mentioned, but no reference is made to “brothers” or “sisters” here. The Bible would have stated that “the boy Jesus was not among his brothers and sisters, nor among his relatives,” however it does not.

... it occurred to them to look for him among their relatives and acquaintances. And not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem in search of him. ... they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions ... And his mother said to him, “Son, why hast thou done so to us? Behold, in sorrow thy father and I have been seeking Thee...”
And He went down with them to Nazareth, and was subject to them; and his mother kept all these things carefully in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men.  - St. Luke 2:44-51


Surely the four “brothers” of Jesus spoken of in the Bible would have been mentioned at this family event in Jerusalem, but they were not. According to early Church tradition, Joseph had a cousin named Cleophas who was also wed to the a woman named Mary. This Mary was the mother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon who are all referred to as the brothers of Jesus.

... his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas... - St. John 19:25

Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?

- St. Mark 6:3


Another, more obvious example is given to us at the Crucifixion of Our Lord. It is evident that Mary had no other children because while her only Son was hanging on the cross, bruised and bleeding, he felt compelled to entrust her into the care of his beloved Apostle, John. St. Joseph died before Christ entered into public ministry, so it would be up to his children to take her in. Why would Jesus give his mother to St. John if he had brothers or sisters to take care of her? Why were his brothers and sisters not at the foot of the cross with their mother?

Are we to believe that these sons and daughters refused their mother in her hour of need? It doesn’t make sense. So, feeling responsible for His mother’s well-being, Christ gave her to his best friend to watch over. Even in the excruciating pain of his crucifixion, he cared enough to look after his mother till the very end.

When Jesus therefore, saw his mother and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold thy son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold thy mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. ... And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.
- St. John 19:26-30

One might argue that this example is not enough to suggest that Jesus was an only child. To be crucified was the most shameful way to die, and perhaps this is why Jesus’ so-called brothers were not at the foot of the cross with their mother. We can take note that not even his apostles were present, except of course for John the Beloved. Where were his apostles and friends? They might have been ashamed to be associated with the crucifixion scene - as would his brothers. Still, if Jesus had brothers or sisters, He would not have needed to give his mother into the care of his friend, regardless of whether or not they were at the foot of the cross. Why would his brothers abandon not only him, but their mother as well? If we take the “brother” references literally, then out of four possible brothers, would not one of them support their mother? Would all four abandon her as well? Not likely.


There are some who claim that in order to be called Mary’s “first- born”, Jesus would have had a younger brother or sister. The claim is made that Christ could not be a “first-born” unless other children followed him:

... she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes...
- St. Luke 2:7

Using this as an argument shows lack of knowledge of the ways of the ancient Jewish people and how they used that term. In Exodus 13:2 and Numbers 3:12 the child who opened the womb was the first-born and, under the Law of Moses, was to be sanctified:

“Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb...” - Exodus 13:2

Were the parents required to wait until a second son was born before being allowed to officially call their first son the “first-born”? Not so. The first son born of a marriage was always referred to as the “first-born”, regardless of whether or not he was an only child. Why is it so hard for us to believe that the Virgin Mary was in fact a virgin all her life? Why too is it hard to believe that St. Joseph was also chaste and virginal? God can do whatever He wants, so why is it so impossible for us to believe that He hand-crafted such pure souls as those of Joseph and Mary? Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose from the grave and after 40 days he ascended to heaven! Those are just two examples of God’s greatness and are just the tip of the ice-berg. Another hard-hitting example of God’s power: He created the universe – all which is seen and unseen! So why should this issue of virginity be so hard for many to believe? Not even the Holy Bible can contain all of God’s mysteries and what He has wrought. Why do so many people try to limit the works of God by being too proud to have faith in some of His mysterious works?

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." - St. Matthew 19:26

Jesus, Mary and Joseph
to you, Holy Family of Nazareth,
today we turn our gaze
with admiration and confidence;
in you we contemplate
the beauty of communion in true love;
to you we commend our families,
so that in them marvels of grace be renewed.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
alluring school of the Gospel:
teach us to imitate your virtues
with a wise spiritual discipline,
grant us a clear vision
that recognizes the work of Providence
in the daily realities of life.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
faithful custodian of the mystery of salvation:
help us to regain an appreciation for silence,
make our families cenacles of prayer
and transform them into little domestic Churches,
renew the desire for sanctity,
sustain the noble toil of work, of education,
of listening, of mutual understanding and of forgiveness.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
reawaken in our society the consciousness
of the sacred and inviolable character of the family,
an inestimable and irreplaceable good.
May every family be a place where goodness and peace are welcomed
for children and for the elderly,
for those who are sick and alone,
for those who are poor and needy.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
we pray to you with confidence,
we entrust ourselves to you with joy.