My good friend Jeff Kress told me about something he thought about one time, related to St. Joseph’s death. We can be sure from the Bible that St. Joseph had died before Jesus died, since on the cross Jesus entrusted his mother to his disciple John’s care–something he would not have done had St. Joseph been alive.
So why did St. Joseph die before Jesus did? Well, it’s simple yet profound. St. Joseph, as Guardian of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Custos), was charged with protecting Jesus by the Father, in addition to being his father in so many ways. If the Father had permitted St. Joseph to be alive during Jesus’ Passion, St. Joseph could not have stood by and watched Jesus be tortured and murdered. He would have fought like a lion to stop his torturers, even doing violence to them, and such an act was against St. Joseph’s makeup. I don’t know if it would have been sinful for him to protect Jesus, but the contradiction of being Jesus’ protector and foster-father and then being forced to sit idly by while his son was murdered would have been too much.
So the Father, in his perfect wisdom, willed that St. Joseph die peacefully, in Jesus and Mary’s arms before Jesus’ public ministry, rather than subject him to the unbearable horror of watching his son die, an act that had to happen for our poor souls’ salvation.
All hail the Lion of Judah!