The mysterious greatness of Joseph within the Divine Economy lies in the fact that he is truly Mary’s spouse and, for this reason, Jesus’ father. When Joseph freely chose Mary to be his wife (for this was his heart’s first intention), he had to accept that this choice would be accomplished according to God’s will for Mary, since Mary had already offered herself entirely to her God. This is the radical purification that God demands of Joseph’s heart. His love for Mary must be offered to the Father and is only to be fulfilled in accordance with God’s will.
Surely this is what God demands of every human love: that it be supernaturalized through charity, and radically so. However, in Joseph’s case, that which ordinarily is radical and fundamental becomes explicit and present “in act.” In order for him to espouse Mary in truth, he has to live in his heart what she herself lives in relation to her God: the offering of one’s entire life in total surrender.
This requirement demands that his love as a spouse, the love he lives in his heart as a man, be sacrificed to God, so that charity can take hold of everything and become the more significant love. His love as a husband has to be radically impoverished. He becomes the guardian of the Virgin—he who bears the responsibility of keeping her hidden by taking her into his home and entering into such a closeness with her, so as to be docile to the will of the Father with her. Joseph must become a virginal husband if he is to espouse the Virgin who is consecrated to God. He truly espouses her by becoming her guardian, he who officially takes her into his home, and he does so in order to offer her personally and intimately to God, to the Father.