It was on December 8, 1870, that Blessed Pope Pius IX issued a document through the Sacred Congregation of Rites entitled, _Quemadmodum Deus_ and proclaimed St Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church. Sixteen years earlier before then, December 8, 1854, this same Pontiff proclaimed in the document, _Ineffabilis Deus_, that Maria, who is Joseph’s Spouse is Immaculate Conception, thus becoming the third Marian Dogma. One hundred and fifty years later, the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, issued an Apostolic Letter, _Patris Corde_, which means “With a Father’s Heart”, to declare the Year of St Joseph, in celebration of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of declaration of universal patronage of Joseph by his aforementioned predecessor.
This has really inspired me personally to be conscious of the personality of Joseph. Hence, in the honour of Joseph’s Year, I shall be reflecting about this holy man under *_Go to Joseph Series_*, for the only language that I understand from the Papal proclamations on the Foster Father of Jesus and Husband of Maria is that the Popes tell us to _Go to Joseph_. It is one thing to hear this recommendation, but yet, it is another thing to know the reason for recommending us to go to him. It therefore begs the question: Why should we go to Joseph? What is so special about this man? Among several reasons for asking us to go to Joseph is that in doing so, we become like God by imitating Him in His humility as One who was the first to go to him. As Pope Francis identifies in the initial paragraphs of _Patris Corde_, the four Gospels refer to Jesus as “Son of Joseph” (see Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 4:22; John 6:42). Jesus who is God confined Himself to the earthly care of Joseph.
This is indeed a great humility for how can God choose to be under obedience to His own creature? If we are to substitute the title, “Son of Joseph”, with “Jesus”, the expression becomes “Jesus of Joseph”, while further substitution with “God” would render it as “God of Joseph”. A reversal of this statement gives us the rendition, “Joseph of God”. And when the triple Proper names, “Jesus”, “Son” and “God” are combined, we have the expression, “Jesus who is God is the Son of Joseph”. This gives us the insight that that same Joseph is dignified by Jesus. This is consequent upon the fact that in Joseph’s earthly home, Jesus is “Theos tou anthropou” (God of man), while in Heaven, the Eternal home of Jesus, Joseph becomes forever _”anthropos tou Theou”_ (Man of God).
This is a great yet unknown secret about Joseph, the Foster-Father of the Son of God who is also God the Son. So, as Jesus has gone to Joseph, He has given him great powers, and afterwards encourages us to do same, for it shows that to him, God refuses nothing. We are asked to go to Joseph because Jesus identifies with us as His siblings, hence, He desires His father to be ours too, just as He gives us His Mother to be our Mother too at the foot of the Cross (see John 19:27). Therefore, just as no one can claim to have Jesus as Brother if one does not have Maria as Mother, so also can no one claim to be Jesus’ sibling if one does not recognise Joseph as Father.
It is on this account that Pope Francis in the document identifies the type of Father Joseph is. He is: a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father, a creatively courageous father, a working father, and a father in the shadows. By implication, Joseph is being presented to us as a father whom Jesus has reposed so much confidence in. Thus, God can never undermine His trust in him by telling us to go to him. He becomes too a model and example to every father in the family. Another important reason for encouraging us to go to Joseph is because in him is an example of a good husband. Just as he possesses the characteristics of a man who understands the situation of his spouse, Maria, even in trying moments, so can he help everyone in marriage on how to handle situations even when all hope seems to be lost.
Therefore, let every married woman look up to Joseph as a teacher to her husband, and let every married man see him as a tutor on how to be a good custodian and a pillar of faithfulness. This would enable them recognize the meaning of the marital vows they have exchanged. Even those who are no longer faithful to their marriage should invite Joseph with faith combined with good efforts, and they will see wonders done in restoring unity in their homes.
 Anywhere Joseph is, there Jesus and Maria are. Therefore, the presence of Joseph is the presence of God because his sweetness attracts Jesus who is God and Maria who is the Mother of God. This presence and sweetness which attracts Jesus and Maria means that God goes to Joseph, and simultaneously encourages us to *Go to Joseph*. When we go to Joseph, we will discover that God is there too with us. O St Joseph, Foster-Father of Jesus and Faithful Spouse of Maria! Pray for us who have recourse to You.
… Joseph, glory of the Patriarchs
One of the most famous prayers approved by the Church in honour of St Joseph is entitled _Officia Parvum Sancti Joseph_ (the Little Office of St Joseph). The antiphon of that prayer opens with the solemn words of salutation: “Salve Patriarcharum decus, et Ecclesiae Sanctae Dei oeconomae, cui Panem vitae et frumentum electorum conservasti”,, which means “Hail Glory of the Patriarchs, Steward of God’s Holy Church, who didst preserve the Bread of life and the wheat of the elect.” Our point of consideration in the present reflection shall be on the first sacred title of Joseph as “Glory of the Patriarchs”. What does this mean?
 The word, _Patriarch_ derives from two Greek words, _pater_ (father) and _arche_ (ancient). A Patriarch is one who can be considered an ancestor in and by a family, since in the history of a family tree or genealogy, reference must be made to him as one whose fatherhood is long-standing. An important thing to note here is that Patriarchs concern men who are fathers, grandfathers and forefathers, hence, patriarchism flows from masculine side. The Little Office salutes Joseph as Glory of the Patriarchs. But who are these patriarchs being referred to? The answer is found in the pericope of Gospel of Matthew 1:1-
17. The hagiographer informs us that Jesus’ genealogy is traceable to Abraham who precedes other fathers, and the implication of Matthew’s summation of the number of the generations from Abraham to David (14), from David to Babylonian deportation (14), and from the Babylonian deportation to Christ (14) equals forty-two (see v 17). Interestingly enough, Maria, the Mother of Jesus recognized this genealogy of her Son and of Joseph her spouse in the Magnificat where she sings that God made a promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever (see Luke 1:55). Part of those being referred to as descendants of Abraham here are the fathers mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy, among whom is Joseph. Joseph, thus, ends the list of Patriarchs for directly after his name, that of Jesus is the next in the genealogy.
 In the exegesis of the Church Father, Melito of Sardis recorded in his _Homily on the Lord’s Pasch_ which is read in the Office of the Readings of Good Friday, he notes that Jesus Christ was present in some righteous men of the Old Testament so as to endure great things and to _prepare His coming_. One of those he mentioned that has his name inscribed in Matthew’s genealogy is Isaac, whose being bound by his father, Abraham prefigures the tieing of Jesus in His Passion experience in the _abandonement_ by His Eternal Father. All these patriarchs longed to see the Messiah, yet none of them did, except Joseph. Thus, their anticipation was fulfilled in Joseph who not only saw Jesus, but becomes His Foster-Father in the flesh, as well as adored Him as His God in the manger. Thus, Joseph culminates the desire of the Patriarchs for their dream was realized in him. This becomes a way of glorifying Joseph, and it is Jesus His Son who glorifies Him.
 Joseph is the Glory of the Patriarchs because unlike them all who never saw Him, he became His earthly provider. Perhaps, one of the longings of these patriachs would be to father Jesus, the Messiah. It therefore becomes clear that Joseph had a personal encounter with Jesus the Man-God. In fact, it was not just an ordinary encounter, but rather the one that revealed to Joseph that His Son is the Messiah.
 Joseph is the Glory of the Patriarchs not just because he surpasses them by his personal experience of Jesus, but because unlike them, He discovered several secrets about Jesus in union with His Mother, Maria. Therefore, since Joseph found the secrets about Jesus, his dignity was glorified and exalted.
 Joseph is the Glory of the Patriarchs because unlike them who were devoid of seeing Jesus face to face on earth, Joseph not only saw Jesus face to face, but received from Him the privilege of being the Head of the Holy Family where he served as Father, Maria as Mother, and Jesus as Child. Therefore, Joseph unlike them had a foretaste of Heaven while on earth, for if Heaven is defined as presence of God, then in Joseph’s Family, God was present in the Person of Jesus. Is this not a glory for Joseph? Certainly it is.
 Joseph is the Glory of the Patriarchs because too unlike them, He was privileged to be Jesus’ tutor in wisdom. If he was a carpenter, it implies that he was a diligent worker. Hence, he would not have been diligent while Jesus his Son languishes in idleness. Therefore, what he knows he taught his Son, and this teaching also included things about God and life. Thus, we see here a humility demonstrated by God – Jesus allowed Himself to be taught by Joseph so that the world would learn that fatherhood is not just a title, but an office dignified by God. This is what Joseph enjoys as one of his Glories.
 The greatest bewilderment to even note is that Joseph is the Glory of the Patriarchs for his name has same meaning with that of Jesus – _God saves_. This passes a deep and solemn information about this holy man, for while Jesus’ name is given from above, Joseph’s comes from below, yet both have one and same implication with reference to _soteria tou anthropou_ (salvation of man) which both names reflect. This indicates that Joseph’s name speaks directly about God, and it carries so much secret about his personality. His name reminds us of our salvation and simultaneously of our Saviour whose name dignifies his. It is consequent upon this and the above reasons that we receive the Church’s recommendation to *Go to Joseph*, for he is a great man of God. O St Joseph, Glory of the Patriarchs and Faithful spouse of Maria! Pray for us who have recourse to You.
• Martin Nchedo Umeatuegbu writes from the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port-Harcourt (firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone/ WhatsApp: +2348167524058).