Today’s title for St. Joseph is the one Catholics most commonly use, “Foster Father.” Fr. Calloway points out, however, that this is a rather thin translation of the robust Latin title Filii Dei Nutricie, meaning “nurturer of God’s son.” Joseph fed, clothed, protected, and loved the Son of God as only a father can. He was necessary for Christ’s very life on earth; the Son of God knelt before this man and asked for his paternal blessing. It was Mary who first heard the Holy Name “Jesus” (at the Annunciation), but it was Joseph who gave his son that name. Joseph named the Savior (“Jesus” in Hebrew means “God saves”); Eight days after his birth, he legally defined him as “Salvation of the World,” presenting him in the Temple in an irrevocable legal act.
God needed Joseph. God deigns to “need” human beings to accomplish His sacred purposes. He needs you and me. If we only knew how we are needed! Only you can do your particular task in the great economy of salvation, and if you don’t do it, it won’t be done. God will find other ways, of course, but as Adam’s failure to protect his wife from the serpent led to global misery, so will my failure to accomplish my particular tasks diminish the light and warmth of Christ. God needs me; my family, friends, and all the world needs me.
Yesterday was my natural father’s 94th birthday. Above you see him pictured with my mother on their wedding day. He nurtured me, and without him the world would have one less priest. Without your earthly father, the world would have one less soul. Let us honor our natural fathers as we honor our supernatural father Joseph, and as we entrust ourselves to God our Heavenly Father.