“Let me die as did glorious St. Joseph, accompanied by Jesus and Mary, pronouncing those sweetest of names, which I hope to extol for all eternity.”
This is the very end of a fine piece about the death of St. Joseph today at The Catholic Thing.
The writer, Michael Pakaluk opines on the reason why St. Joseph disappears from view in the Gospels. He supposes, as many have, that by the time the Lord began His earthly, public ministry, St. Joseph had already died. There is some internal indirect evidence for this in the Gospels and Pakaluk goes over a few points. No one is bound to believe this theory one way or the other.
Pakaluk also dips into the question of the age of St. Joseph. There is a long tradition of depicting St. Joseph as an old man, which supposedly explains how the Lord could have “brothers” (perhaps from an earlier marriage). Positing that Joseph was elderly at the time of his marriage to Mary also was thought to be a safeguard of her virginity. I side with St. Jerome in holding that Joseph was a young man, capable, for example, of moving swiftly to get his wife and child out of danger and into exile, will that that would have meant.
If Joseph was a younger man, then, if he did die before the Lord’s public ministry began, he died young.
How does that fit with the divine plan for our salvation?
Pakaluk suggests that St. Joseph understood how his continued presence in the Lord’s life would raise problems for people accepting the Lord as God, born of the virgin in fulfillment of prophecy. Hence, he willingly departed, as it were. There are a couple of other ideas as well.
I heard one not too long ago which caught my intention. It was fitting that St. Joseph not be present for the Lord’s Passion because His fatherly and manly impulses would not have allowed him to stay quiet and inactive as he watched his Son suffer.
St. Joseph, magnificent saint and intercessor, has lately been very good to me. I recently was impelled to entrust my material cares to his guidance. What subsequently happened leaves me in no doubt at all that Joseph did, in fact, put his hand on my challenges and guide their outcome.