What Happened To Joseph, Father of Jesus?

What Happened To Joseph, Father of Jesus?

Where the heck is Joseph?
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Recently, I read all four gospels in their entirety; that is, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. According to certain translations, that's roughly 84,000 words. And you know what struck me? Well, many things actually, like

Why don't I do this more often?

I actually like reading the Bible.

Wow, I had no idea Jesus said that.

Wait, what?

That last one happened uncomfortably often, and I had to pose questions to facets of my faith I had never thought about before. Strangely though, out of the thousands of topics I could go into based on Jesus' life, death, resurrection, ascension, miracles, teachings, worldview, identity, disciples, etc., the thing that stuck out to me maybe more than it should have was actually something that wasn't mentioned.

Where the heck is Joseph?

You know, the guy who was doing just fine in life until he thought his bride was fooling around (I mean, who wouldn't? Unless of course you were told in a vision that what really happened was the Holy Spirit did some unexplainable, fancy shmancy "I'm God; I do what I want" stuff inside Mary's virgin womb... oh, wait...). Literally all we know about this guy is that he was a descendant of David and the royal line, he was engaged to and eventually married Mary, he didn't have sex with her until after Jesus was born, he was a righteous and gracious man, he followed Jewish customs, he probably wasn't too overbearing (he did lose the Son of God for a good three days), and he listened to angels when they show up in dreams. That's it. The earthly father of the most important man to ever walk the face of the earth is virtually an extra in the movie of Jesus' life.

But, why?

Turns out there a few theories. I did some digging, and Josephology is a real theological study sating back as far as AD 800 and growing in the Catholic tradition especially in the 16th century. It is pretty common scholarly thought that Joseph was a good bit older than Mary, and that he died before Jesus' ministry began. He isn't mentioned to be present with Mary and Jesus at the wedding in Cana, where Jesus' first sign of changing water into wine takes place. He definitely isn't around at Jesus' death, where Jesus bonds his disciple John to his mother, Mary, so that she will be taken care of. Furthermore, Jesus' body after death is taken charge of by Joseph of Arimathea, a role his father would have taken on had he been alive. Many think that when Jesus' dedication takes place in Luke 2, Joseph's death before Jesus' rise as a rabbi is foreshadowed when Simeon tells Mary she will live to be touched by Jesus' ministry.

I have heard some thought processes of Joseph potentially being ashamed of Jesus' abandonment of his family, trade, and home. Many thought that Jesus was a blasphemous radical; that certainly wouldn't have been a reputation you would want to know your son by. But I don't find this convincing given the circumstances of Jesus' birth, his claim of authority as early as age twelve, and his dedication at the temple. Furthermore, knowing that Joseph is regarded by God to be a righteous man (at least enough that he gets to father the Savior of the world, no pressure), he would have no standing to leave his family.

Based on this evidence, I find the straightforward, surface level reading of the text to indicate that Joseph died an uneventful death of old age prior to Jesus' ministry beginning. Looking deeper though, I think even God's providence was at work here. Joseph's absence leaves no room to question who Jesus' Father is. This makes the Gospel of John even more astonishing to read, as Jesus knows the Father, is in the Father, and is worked through by the Father, even as the Father. This has deep theological implications for our faith on multiple levels, and I regard that as a very good thing.

Cover Image Credit: Childhood of Christ

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To Everyone Who Hasn't Had Sex Yet, Wait For Marriage, It's The Right Move

If you have not had sex yet, wait.

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Premarital sex is not a new concept, no matter how much people like to pretend it is. You can trace scripture and historical texts back thousands of year to see that lust and fornication have been a problem since… well, since we humans have been problems.

They tell you in sex ed that sex causes you to form a bond with someone. They throw some big chemical names at you that are apparently in your body and cause that emotional attachment to happen, then you move on (or back to) how important condoms are and why STDs are so scary.

As a middle schooler or teenager, you can't understand what it means to become permanently connected to someone as a result of a quick, physical act.

If you haven't even had your first kiss, you really can't imagine what it's like to develop such a complex and intimate connection with someone because you have yet to feel the butterflies in your stomach from a kiss. So you really don't know what it's like to have a whole different type of feeling in your stomach.

You never forget your first love. It's one of the most cliche things you consistently hear, but it's true. Ask anyone. I guarantee your parents can still spurt out their first love's name in a few seconds. And most people never forget their first time. I know all my friends can recount that often awkward and slightly terrifying moment as if it happened an hour ago. When you mix those two, especially if you are in your teens, oh boy.

You never forget that. No matter how hard you try.

Everything you hear about sex is true: it's amazing, fantastic, life-changing, etc. There's a reason people have done it as frequently as they do, for as long as they have. But every time you sleep with someone, you leave a piece of yourself with them. Every time you choose to take that final physical step with someone, you cannot go back and collect that piece of your dignity and soul that you left with someone.

So, imagine what happens when you break up with someone you've slept with. Or that you just hooked up with. You have given someone a little slice of yourself forever. And you can never get it back. And imagine what happens when you do that multiple times. You give a piece of yourself to five, 10, 15, 20 or more people. Then you meet the person that you want to spend forever with. And you no longer have that whole part of you. You've given pieces away, and you can no longer give those to the love of your life.

So, save those pieces for your future spouse.

If you have not had sex yet, wait. If you have, consider not giving more pieces of yourself away to people who are not your spouse. Sex was created to be between two spouses, nobody else. So we need to try to maintain its integrity.

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I've Never Been to Church, but I Believe in a Greater Being

Written during an existential crisis

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I was raised without religion - not necessarily as an atheist but just had never been involved with a church or any church's teachings. This wasn't particularly any decision on my own part, just how life unfolded from my background. An issue that I've constantly struggled with, as early as when I was in first grade, is how life came to be. Quite often, I've had strong, mentally burdening existential crises land on me - possibly because of the lack of religion in my life. When these crises happen, I think often of religion, and in the possibility of a greater being.

Though I've never spent a day in my life at Church, I've developed my own beliefs in a greater being over the years.

The main reason for this is the irrationality of life. There is no proven explanation for how we came to be. Though we can trace back to a certain point - such as how our person, continent, world, planet, solar system was created, there comes a point when we can't explain any further. Everything comes from something. The first cell split into two cells, which continued to split. But what could have caused the first cell? What could possibly have caused something to come from nothing? There are theories that attempt to explain this, such as a disturbance in the blank universe which created the first cells. But, what caused this disturbance? This is something that I'll never be able to prove or even to wrap my head around.

Beyond this, there are so many other parts in our existence that don't make sense or can't be explained. For instance, in quantum physics, particles will split apart for no apparent reason, but when you put a camera up to watch the particles up close (all factors remaining the same), the particles no longer split. Also, there have been proven variations in the most basic physics laws, such as gravity. But no explanation to explain these small 'mistakes'.

For me, I've considered religion to explain these, and I've also considered conspiracy theories such as the simulation theory. The simulation theory and religion share the idea of a greater being - of a creator. Though I haven't had much experience with religion, I can explain the idea of a creator through the simulation theory. In a nutshell, the simulation theory argues that we are in a simulation - the being simulating our world could be in a completely different universe - perhaps different dimensions, different rules of physics, etc. Whatever their world is, it could be something that we can't even fathom - and it could also be a universe that does make perfect sense. Our universe is riddled with mystery and confusion - what if the greater being's world is one that isn't? To think of this, imagine how in a 2D world, the people living in it would never be able to fathom what it's like to live in a 3D world - what we take for granted. In the same way, we may not fathom what it's like to live in an elevated life. If it's likely that we'll ever be able to simulate life, then we ourselves could be living in simulated life (since that technology can exist). This could offer an explanation for our existence, but we would never know. A similar explanation could also be made with religion.

I read an amazing metaphor for believing in a greater being. Imagine when you were first conceived, and living in the belly of your mother for months. At this point (assuming hypothetically that you're conscious), you would have no idea what's to come next. You may believe that birth is death - it's bringing you into something you've never experienced, and you may think this means disappearing. However, you take a leap of faith and you soon find that birth, in fact, leads you to a new chapter of a life. But of course, you would never have known when you were in the womb, where all you knew was what you were experiencing.

It never hurts to have faith. It grounds you and can help you through rough existential crises. Whatever for the reason for our existence, we most likely will never actually find out - possibly in the afterlife, but no one has lived to tell the tale.

Thanks for reading my thoughts, and musing with me during this existential crises.

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