Was Jesus older than Joseph

Joseph of Nazareth was not an old man!
(March 2016)

Josef Spindelböck

How old should we imagine St. Joseph as he joined Mary, his virgin wife, in a true marriage according to Jewish law?

This marriage was intended by God to protect the mystery of God's incarnation and to give the Child Jesus the opportunity to grow up in an orderly family.

If Joseph of Nazareth had really been an old man of perhaps 80 years when he married Mary, as an apocryphal script and some pictorial representations suggest, then various problems would arise:

The real difficulty lies in the fact that the child of Mary - Jesus - would practically have been abandoned to defenselessness. Nobody would have trusted an 80-year-old man to be the biological father of the baby Jesus. Maria would then have been at the mercy of an adulteress, with all the consequences that could go as far as the stoning of such a woman.

Now it is clear from the Holy Scriptures and the doctrine of the faith of the Church that Joseph of Nazareth was not the biological father of Jesus, since the child in the virgin womb of Mary had been conceived by the Holy Spirit. However, it was important that this mystery of the virgin conception of Jesus not yet be revealed at that time. According to the will of God, it should apply in the judgment of people that Jesus was the child of Mary and Joseph. According to the Holy Scriptures, Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, but the legal father, and this was connected with the full responsibility that a father has for his child, i.e. with all paternal rights and duties.

A second reason suggests itself: How could an old man have endured the hardships of the journey first to Bethlehem, but then also to Egypt? How would he have been able to actively practice the carpenter's trade and then teach the young Jesus how to do it?

Finally, there is one more important reason: Joseph of Nazareth was united with Mary in a true communion of heart; after all, he was her real husband, even if, according to God's plan for this marriage, there was no sexual union between the two. Joseph of Nazareth was therefore on a par with his virgin wife in everything (without prejudice to her special abundance of grace and election); this also had to refer to the correspondence of the age, so that a possible difference could not be so great that a real love affair between the two could hardly be imagined.

Further information:

Apostolic Letter "Redemptoris Custos" from John Paul II on the figure and mission of St. Joseph in the life of Christ and the Church (August 15, 1989)

Books about St. Joseph published by the St. Josef publishing house