To the people who were suffering from the famine in Egypt, the pharaoh said: “Go to Joseph, do what he tells you” (Gn 41,55). And Joseph, the most important personality of the kingdom after the pharaoh and custodian of his treasures, distributed goods that had been accumulated in times of abundance.
Joseph of Egypt is a figure who symbolizes the coming of St. Joseph in the New Testament, to whom God has entrusted his most precious treasures: Jesus and Mary. In this we see the unparalleled privilege received from St. Joseph. To this singular saint, even God has wanted to submit! Together with the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph is the first depositary of the divine mystery1.
The divine treasures and mysteries lay deep in the heart of St. Joseph. This is why St. Theresa, like so many other saints, indicates him as a teacher of interior life: “Whoever does not find a teacher who teaches him to pray, take this glorious saint for master and will not be mistaken in this journey”2.
Joseph of Egypt preserved grain for his people and in doing this, “Saint Joseph received the living bread from heaven to keep it for himself and for the whole world”3. He is the faithful and wise servant the Lord has established over those of his family, to feed them in due course4.
“Go to Joseph” – the Magisterium of the Church tells us and which the saints repeat to us5. After the Virgin Mary, there has never been and could never be a saint comparable to this glorious Patriarch. God has gathered in St. Joseph, as in the sun, says St. Gregory of Nazianz, all the light and the splendor of all the other saints together6.
According to Pope Leo XIII, St. Joseph participates in a singular way, through the marriage covenant, in the exaltation of the greatness of the Virgin Mary. “There is no doubt to this high dignity, with which the Mother of God is above all other creatures, and has approached more than any other person”7.
Among the unequalled gifts that St. Joseph received in his marriage, more than the chastity of the Virgin Mary, the most sublime, is undoubtedly the paternity of Jesus. “Because of that faithful marriage, both deserved to be called Christ’s parents, not just the Mother, but also the one who was the father, precisely because he was the spouse of the Mother, one and the other by means of the mind and not of the flesh”8.
The glorious Joseph, husband of Mary and father of Jesus, stands out among all the saints for his sublime dignity. This is the reason for the particular efficacy of his intercession before God, as testified by St. Teresa of Jesus:
I do not remember even now that I have ever asked anything of him which he has failed to grant. I am astonished at the great favours which God has bestowed on me through this blessed saint, and at the perils from which He has freed me, both in body and in soul. […] The Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to him on earth (for, being His guardian and being called His father, he could command Him) just so in Heaven He still does all that he asks9.
Let’s turn to Joseph! Let us turn to his most powerful intercession! Let us enter into the mystery hidden in his heart and discover through this excellent teacher the treasures of the Incarnate Word and of His Most Holy Mother, the graces of intimacy with God, the riches of the interior life.
Translation: Jhoanna Climacosa
1 Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris custos, 5.
2 The book of life, chapter 6, paragraph 8.
3 St Bernard, Omelia super “missus est” 2, 16.
4 Cf. Mt 24, 45.
5 On the argument see the following pontifical documents: Redemptoris Custos, John Paul II; Quamquam Pluries, Pope Leo XIII; Inclytum Patriarcham, Pope Pius IX; Quemadmodum Deus, Pope Pius IX; Bonum Sane, Pope Benedict XV; Le voci, Pope John XXIII.
6 Cf. Gasnier Michel, Los silencios de san José, Ed. Palabra, Madrid, 1980, p. 207.
7 Quamquam Pluries.
8 St Augustine in Redemptoris Custos, 7.
9 The book of life, chapter 6, paragraph 6.