Was Joseph a deadbeat dad?

Question: Was Joseph a deadbeat dad? What happened to Joseph after Jesus’ birth?

Though the Gospels don’t say much about Joseph in general, there is clear Scriptural evidence that he was very present in Jesus’ young life. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Mary and Joseph taking the baby Jesus to the temple to be presented, in accordance with the law of Moses (Luke 2:22-38). After that experience, Luke explains that the family returned to Galilee, settling in Nazareth (Luke 2:39-40).

The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of the flight into Egypt, when Joseph takes Mary and the baby Jesus into Egypt to escape Herod (Matthew 2: 13-15). In this story, Joseph assumes the role of protector of his wife and child, leading them away from danger (we can probably all agree that this is not the action of a deadbeat dad).

The last mention of Joseph in the Bible comes in Luke 2:41–51, when the 12-year-old Jesus is lost in the temple. The Scriptures don’t say anything about when Joseph died, though it’s widely understood to have been before the Crucifixion. John tells the story of how Jesus entrusted the care of his mother to the beloved apostle (see John 19:25-27), and there would not have been a need for that if Joseph were still alive.

So though we don’t know much about Joseph, what we do see indicates that he was a man who observed the practice of his faith, attended to the needs of his family, and followed the will of God, even in unusual circumstances (see Matthew 1:18-25). He is one of the patron saints of fathers and of families.