Jesus and Saint Joseph: Exploring their relationship and influence on one another

By Cliff Gorski

In the four Gospels, there is very little written about the foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph.

He is mentioned in the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt and their return to Galilee. In each of those stories, it is implied that St. Joseph was a common thread in the protection, teaching and nurturing of his foster son.

Monsignor Raymond E. Riffle, Vicar General of the Diocese of Greensburg and Rector at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish, Greensburg, said that all we need to do is reflect on our own fathers to understand the type of foster father Joseph was to Jesus.

“Even before Jesus was born, Joseph was asked to trust God and take Mary as his wife, and as His foster father, Joseph was always looking down the road and saying what could be a concern, what could be a problem,” Monsignor Riffle said.

One often wonders what the Holy Family dynamic looked like as Jesus grew into a teenager and a young man. Monsignor Riffle thinks the interaction between the three was fairly normal for the time.

“Mary was a mother, Jesus was a son, Joseph was a foster father,” he said. “Joseph knew He was special, and I am sure he observed that and watched that, and I think what Joseph learned from Jesus was to see a glimpse of God.”

St. Joseph was a carpenter by trade, and Jesus learned this trade from his foster father.

“I am an adopted child,” Monsignor Riffle said. “When I was little, my dad was a printer after working in the steel mill for 45 years. I thought, maybe I would be a printer, too. But that wasn’t the path that God had for me.” 

Monsignor Riffle said he learned from his father a strong work ethic, customer service skills and how to have a sense of pride in hard work that produced a job well done.

“I think Jesus watched Joseph do the same thing,” he said. “And it was Joseph’s job to be a foster father and to provide all of the healthy and wonderful things that a father provides to his child on a daily basis.”


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