“The Holy Family” by Franz Xavier Karl Palko (1724-1767), oil on canvas, painted around 1760, housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/PUBLIC DOMAIN

Spiritual Life

St. Joseph as adorer of Christ

It seems that God likes to do big things in hiding. Some of the most important moments of God’s intervention in human history are mostly hidden. The Annunciation is an example. The Resurrection took place largely without an audience.

We cannot miss the correlation between the hidden life of Jesus – the 30 years he spent preparing for his public ministry – and Jesus who is hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, hidden in the holy host that we adore. Every consecration contains within it this favorite method of heaven: It takes place hidden from our earthly view. And so St. Joseph’s life joins this litany for a God at work in hiding. 

Pope St. John Paul II tells us that as guardian to the mystery of the child Jesus, Joseph was tasked with protecting him from the world, until his time had come. I stagger at the depth of humility that must have required. No limelight for Joseph, no book deals on how to raise a perfect son, no podcasts on how to run a holy family. Just fidelity, steadfastness, all while remaining anonymous in the world.

We might wonder why. Wouldn’t we be better off if we had more information about Joseph? John Paul reminds us, “The presence of Joseph in the New Testament is largely a silent one; and of course, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is silent, too, and this silence is not without its import and its invitation.” 

Indeed, the hidden life of Joseph teaches us something about the true meaning of adoration. If to adore means to reverence, to revere, to worship, one way that Joseph adored Jesus was by protecting these private years, by reverencing the fullness of the Lord. Isn’t the greatest demonstration of respect and reverence for another soul to honor all that it has been created for?

“Can you not stay awake with me one hour?” (Mk 37:14) is often the verse chosen to advertise adoration in parishes. And this, of course, recalls the Lord’s words to his sleepy disciples who kept nodding off while he was in prayerful agony anticipating his passion. 

Drawing on this moment it seems the emphasis is on keeping the Savior company, joining him in praying that he be strengthened for the extraordinary task ahead. But when his work was completed perfectly in his passion, death, resurrection and ascension, the shift in our holy hour has been to pray that we would be strengthened for the tasks we’re given, and so we are. It is Jesus who keeps us company, never falling asleep, never wavering in steadfast friendship when we need it the most, never weakening at the depth of our want and need of him. 

I wonder if this steadfastness, this capacity to always be available to us, to always be there, was not first taught to Jesus by Joseph, Joseph who kept Jesus company in every moment of his private life, teaching him, forming him, feeding him. Was he also, in that mystical way that he fathered the Son of God, preparing him to be present to us in the Blessed Sacrament? 

We could argue that Joseph made a lifetime of holy hours, raising and feeding and forming Jesus. John Paul writes, “In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Church venerates the memory … of St. Joseph, because ‘he fed him whom the faithful must eat as the bread of eternal life.’” What a powerful link exists then between St. Joseph, who fed Jesus, and Jesus, the Bread of Life, who feeds the world.

Holy St. Joseph, teach us how to truly adore, how to truly revere, protect and proclaim Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament


Liz Kelly is the award-winning author of nine books, including “Love Like a Saint” and “Jesus Approaches.” She travels speaking and leading retreats throughout the country. Visit her website at LizK.org.

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