It was holy virginity that kept the Son of God, when becoming man, from choosing a mortal father.
Since He was to be born of a virgin mother, He could have no other father but God. But does this mean that Joseph was in no way His father? Not at all, says St. Chrysostom, for holy virginity is opposed only to the qualities of fatherhood that injure it.
See, then, the secret of God, and the solution He invented in this memorable conflict between Joseph’s paternity and virginal purity. He shared His paternity and willed that virginity share in it. There is something in the word “father” that virginity cannot accept. But everything that belongs to a father without affecting virginity: That, He said, is what I give you.
And consequently, Mary did not conceive of Joseph, for virginity would have been injured; but Joseph shared with Mary the cares and the vigils with which she raised this divine Child; and he felt for Jesus the natural inclination, all the gentle emotions, all the tender attentiveness of a paternal heart.
- Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, First Panegyric of St. Joseph