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St. Joseph - What the Foster Father of Jesus can Teach Catholics About Fatherhood

St. Joseph - What the Foster Father of Jesus can Teach Catholics About Fatherhood

St. Joseph is one of the more well-known fathers in the Bible and for good reason. As the foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph’s actions continue to teach modern parents even today. You might think that there’s not much to learn from the “silent saint”, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here are 3 core lessons that modern parents can take from the story of the foster father of Jesus.  

1. Obedience to God’s Will 

Many people cringe at the word “obedience”, but if there’s anything the many fathers in the bible teach us, it’s that obedience to God’s will is “the beginning of all wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). When God tells Joseph to take Mary as his wife, and Jesus as his son, Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (Matthew 1:24) immediately upon waking. 

Here is where Joseph’s silence speaks volumes. Instead of responding to God’s command with words, with complaints, or with protest, he responds with immediate obedience to God’s will. For modern parents, this lack of hesitation can seem almost impossible amidst the chaos and stress of parenthood, but that’s exactly why St. Joseph is a model for us. 

2. Dedication to Protect and Provide 

St. Joseph became a protector and provider as soon as he accepted the role of foster father of Jesus. The gospels tell us that Joseph guided the pregnant Mary on a grueling journey to Bethlehem. Then soon after the dangers of that journey, they faced even more trials when they escaped genocide at the hands of King Herod, fleeing to Egypt, a place where they understood neither the language nor the customs.  

In the face of these challenges, St. Joseph again responded not with words of complaint or protest, but with action. Later in life, St. Joseph provided for his family through the labor of his own hands as a professional carpenter.

In the end, the Gospels make it clear: throughout his life, St. Joseph protected and provided for his wife and foster son with fortitude and dedication, not relying on his own strength but on the strength of God’s grace acting through him.

3. Spiritual Fatherhood

Joseph had many reasons to refuse God’s command to be the father of Jesus, but he answered the call to fatherhood anyway. This makes St. Joseph’s fatherhood all the more admirable. Rather than a biological fatherhood, Joseph’s fatherhood is a spiritual one, founded on his obedience to God’s will. 

And though Joseph may have been the first spiritual father in Christian history, he certainly isn’t the last.
God continues to call both men and women to be spiritual mothers and fathers even today, through foster care and child sponsorship.

Have you ever considered that God might even be calling you to spiritual parenthood?

It’s unlikely that you’re called to foster a child in the way that St. Joseph did 2,000 years ago, but there are other ways to answer that call. 
If you feel called to do so, you can become a spiritual parent right in this moment. Caritas for Children has countless children waiting to be sponsored right now.

Through a day school or boarding school sponsorship program, you can become the spiritual parent of a child who needs your love.

The vocation to spiritual parenthood is one that takes time to discern. If you feel that call, reach out to Caritas for Children to become the provider and protector that God is calling you to be. 

Vic Russak is an Albany, NY based content writer specializing in food, nutrition, and Catholic faith topics. Learn more about his work here.