Meditations drawn from the writings of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.
Consider the sweet talks between Mary and Joseph during this trip. Perhaps they spoke of the mercy of God, who sent His Son to redeem mankind, and of the Son in coming to this valley of tears to repair the sins of mankind.
THE JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM
Consider also Joseph worth, the night he was born by divine Word, at being expelled from Bethlehem with Mary; so they were forced to take refuge in a stable. What suffering he had to endure Joseph to see his holy bride, girl of fifteen years, pregnant to give birth, shivering in that cave, wet and exposed to air. But then how much had to be his consolation when Mary called him, saying: "Come, Joseph, come to worship our God, baby, just born in this cave. Look how beautiful he is! Behold the King of the world in a manger, on a little 'hay! Cold trembles, but it kindles love seraphim; crying, for the happiness of heaven".
Now he sees what the love was and tenderness of Joseph when he saw with his own eyes the Son of God became a child and at the same moment heard the angels sing around their Lord was born and saw the light filled the cave! Then, kneeling and weeping with joy, Joseph said: "I adore you, my Lord and God! What a great grace is mine: be the first to see you, after Mary, and know that in the world you want to be known and respected my son! Let therefore, that from now on I call and I tell you: "My son and my God, consecrate myself to you. My life will never be mine, but all yours, and I will live only to serve you, my Lord!".
The joy of Joseph in the night grew even more when he saw the shepherds, called by the angel to see their Savior was born. And, later, even the three wise men from the east came to revere the King of heaven came to earth to save his creatures.
THE JOURNEY TO EGYPT
The Magi Saints had informed Herod the King of the Jews was already born. Then the barbarian prince ordered that all the children who were born near Bethlehem were killed. God, to save his son from death, sent an angel to tell Joseph to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt.
Consider Joseph's ready obedience which, even though the angel did not say when he had to leave, without asking questions about the time or the way of the journey, and without knowing in what place of Egypt stop, is about to leave immediately. Warn immediately Mary and, as Gerson writes, on the same night, collected the poor tools of his trade who then had to serve in Egypt to support his poor family, in part together with his wife Maria. They go to Egypt alone, without a guide, facing such a long journey, on difficult roads through mountains and deserts. Imagine the suffering of Joseph on this journey, in seeing suffering his beloved bride, not used to walking, with that dear child held in while in her arms and while in his arms, with the fear of meeting every step with Herod's soldiers, in the worst of the winter, with rain, wind and snow. Along the journey and they had nothing to eat but a piece of bread brought from home, or accept from the alms! At night they had to sleep in some humble hovel or outdoors under a tree!
Joseph was certainly conformed to the will of the eternal Father, who wanted as a child his son began to suffer in reparation for the sins of men. However, the heart filled with love of Joseph was bound to suffer in seeing him shake and hear him crying because of the cold and other hardships that felt.
Finally consider what Joseph had to suffer in the seven years of residence in Egypt, in the midst of idolatrous people, foreign and unknown. There had neither relatives nor friends who could help him. Therefore, St. Bernard said that the Holy Patriarch had to support his poor bride and the divine child, who provides food for men and animals and was forced to work hard day and night.
JOSEPH'S LIFE TOGETHER WITH JESUS
Jesus, after his find in the temple by Mary and Joseph, returned with them to their home in Nazareth, and lived with Joseph until the death of him, obeying him as his father. Consider the holy life that Joseph led her into the company of Jesus and Mary. In this family no one cared about anything other than the glory of God: their unique thoughts and desires were to please God; their unique speeches concerned the love that men have to God and that God brings to men, especially in having sent to earth his only begotten Son to suffer and die in a sea of pain and contempt for humanity's salvation. How many tears, Mary and Joseph, who knew the divine Scriptures, have spoken in the presence of Jesus, of his painful passion and death! How tenderly they have talked of their Beloved, who, according to Isaiah, would be the man of sorrows and despise. He, beautiful as he was, would have been scourged and abused to the point that he seems a leper, all full of sores and wounds. But their beloved son would suffer everything patiently, without even opening his mouth and complain of so many torments, and as a lamb, he would be left lead to death; and finally he ended his life by dint of torments, hanging from an infamous wood between two thieves. Therefore we consider the feelings of grief and love that in talks with Mary must have felt Joseph's heart.
JOSEPH'S LOVE FOR MARY AND JESUS
Consider first of all the love that Joseph brought to his holy bride. She was the most beautiful woman that ever existed. She was the most humble, the most gentle, the most pure, the most obedient, the most love of God that there has been and never will be on the earth and among the angels of heaven. Therefore deserved all the love of Joseph was the lover of virtue. Add the love with which he saw himself loved by Mary, who definitely preferred her husband to all creatures. He then saw as the beloved of God, chosen by God to be the mother of his Only-begotten, Now imagine what must have been the love that, for all these reasons, Joseph the just and grateful heart harbored toward his lovely bride.
Consider also the love of Joseph for Jesus. In entrusting our holy father the putative assignment of Jesus, God will certainly infused in the heart, a father's love. But the love of Joseph for Jesus, most loving son and God together, it was not only human, like other fathers. It was also a "super-human" love, because in the very person of Jesus he saw his son and his God. Joseph knew, for certain, and had divine revelation from the angel, that the child who was living with him was the Divine Word, made man for love of man, especially for his sake. He knew that he himself had chosen him as the guardian of his life and wanted to be called his son.
Imagine then, that fire of holy love that should burn in the hearts of Joseph in considering everything; to see his Lord who, as a boy, served him by opening and closing the shop, helping to saw timber, to shovel and ax, to collect the chips, to sweep the house. In short he obeyed him in everything he was told.
THE DEATH OF SAINT JOSEPH
Consider how St. Joseph, after having faithfully served Jesus and Mary, came to the end of life in the house of Nazareth. Surrounded by angels and supported by the King of angels Jesus and Mary, his betrothed, who was laid next to the two sides of the bed, with this sweet and noble company, with a peace of paradise came out of this miserable life.
The death of Joseph was made all the more sweet and precious by the presence of the bride and of the Redeemer, who deigned to be called his son. How could death be bitter for him, dying in the arms of life? Who can explain or understand the pure sweetness, the consolations, hopes, acts of resignation, the flames of charity that the words of eternal life of Jesus and Mary, then aroused in the heart of Joseph?
The death of our saint was really calm and gentle, without anxieties and fears, because his life was always holy; cannot be that the death of those who once offended God and deserve hell. Great instead will then comfort to those who put themselves under the protection of St. Joseph. He, who in life had commanded a God, certainly will command the demons turn them away and preventing them from groped his worshipers at the time of death. Blessed is the soul that is assisted by this good lawyer! He, who had delivered Jesus to death child from danger in Egypt and in his agony was assisted by Jesus and Mary, he had the privilege of being the patron of a happy death and to free from eternal death, the dying of his devotees.
THE GLORY OF SAINT JOSEPH
The glory that God gives to His saints in heaven corresponds to holiness with which they have lived on earth. And the sanctity of St. Joseph is from these words of the Gospel: Joseph her husband, being a righteous (Mt 1:19). Baby just means one who possesses all the virtues; who lacks one virtue it cannot be said to be fair. Now, if the Holy Spirit called "right" when Joseph became husband of Mary, whom we consider an abundance of divine love and of all the virtues he obtained our saint from the talks and the continued co-existence with his holy bride, who gave him a perfect example in all virtues. If the only voice of Mary was enough to sanctify the Baptist and fill Elizabeth of the Holy Spirit, to what length of holiness came the beautiful soul of Joseph through the company and the familiarity he had with Maria for about thirty years?
In addition we must suppose in Giuseppe an increase in virtue and merit above all because he had lived many years in contact with the same holiness, that is, with Jesus, he maintained, serviced and supported on the ground. If God promises a reward to those who give for his sake a simple glass of water to a poor, we think what such a glory will be given in heaven to Joseph, who saved him from Herod's hands, brought him food and clothes, often carried her and she reared him with great affection! Certainly the life of Joseph, being with Jesus and Mary, was a continual prayer, rich in acts of faith, of trust, of love, of resignation and offered.
Now, if the premium corresponds to the merits of life, which we think will be Joseph's glory in heaven. St. Augustine compares the other saints to the stars, but St. Joseph with the sun. And according to Father Suarez St. Joseph, has after Mary, the most glory after all the other saints. The venerable Bernardino de Bustis concludes that St Joseph in Heaven commands, somehow, to Jesus and Mary, when she wants to implore a grace to his devotees.