May 01. Saint Joseph the Worker
Mass Readings + homily notes for special feasts and memorials
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground."
God created man in his image;
in the divine image he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
"Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth."
God also said:
"See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it
to be your food; and to all the animals of the land,
all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food."
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made,
and he found it very good. Evening came,
and morning followed-the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.
Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing,
God rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,
because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.
Brothers and sisters:
Over all these things put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one Body.
And be thankful.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Whatever you do, do from the heart,
as for the Lord and not for men,
knowing that you will receive from the Lord
the due payment of the inheritance;
be slaves of the Lord Christ.
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
"Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter's son? Is not his mother named Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?"
And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them,
"A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and in his own house."
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.
This feast of Saint Joseph the Worker was established by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in order to emphasise the dignity of labour and to propose a model and protector to all working people. For those celebrating this memorial, the Readings are Genesis 1:26–2:3 and Matthew 13:54-58.
(from Pope Francis' general audience on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, 2013)
Today,on the 1st of May, we commemorate St. Joseph the Worker and begin the month traditionally committed to the Virgin Mary. I would like to share with you two little reflections on these two vital persons in the life of Jesus, and of our own lives: the first, about work, the second about the contemplation of Jesus.
1. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, one of the times when Jesus returns to his native region, to Nazareth, and speaks in the synagogue, the Gospel underlines his fellow villagers' astonishment at his wisdom, and the question they ask one another: is not this the Carpenter's son?" (13:55). Jesus takes part in our history, he comes into our midst, being born of Mary by the work of God, but with the presence of St. Joseph, the legal father who defends him and even teaches him his trade. Jesus was born and resided in a family, in the Holy Family, picking up from St. Joseph the carpenter's trade, in the workshop of Nazareth, sharing with him his dedication, hard work and fulfillment, in addition to each day's troubles.
This brings to mind for us the dignity and relevance of work. The Book of Genesis tells how God gave a creative role to the first man and woman by handing over to them the task of populating the earth and subduing it, which does not mean to exploit it, but to develope and protect it, to cultivate it with their own labour (cf. Gen 1:28; 2:15). All human work is part of the strategy of God's love; we are called to plant and safeguard all that earth produces and in this way we take part in the work of creation! Work is essential to the dignity of an individual; it "anoints" us with dignity, so to speak. It makes us resemble God, who has worked and works still, for He is always at work (cf. Jn 5:17). By our work one can maintain oneself and one's family, and contribute to the development of one's nation. On this point I am thinking of the problems faced by the world of work and enterprise in various countries. I think of the number of people, and not just young people, who are jobless, mainly because of an economic model of society, based on the selfish quest of gain, ignoring the needs of social justice.
I want to mention another particular work scenario that bothers me: what we could call "slave labour", work that enslaves. How many people, worldwide, are victims of this kind of slavery, where the person is at the service of work, rather than work serving individuals so that they may have dignity. I would ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of goodwill to make a definitely reject the trafficking of individuals, which falls within the category of "servile labor".
My second thought for today is about about the contemplation of Jesus. Amid the silence of his everyday activity, St. Joseph shared with Mary a unique and constant focus of attention on Jesus. With loving commitment, they accompanied his developments, reflecting on everything that happened in his life. In the Gospels, Luke mentions twice the mindset of Mary, which is also that of St. Joseph: "She treasured all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (2:19.51). To listen to the Lord, we have to discover, to ponder His consistent presence in our lives; we have to stop and talk to Him, give Him space in our lives through prayer. Every one of us, even you adolescent boys and girls, and young people, so numerous right here this early morning, should ask yourselves: what amount of space do I offer the Lord? Do I stop to discussion with Him? Ever since we were bit, our parents have actually accustomed us to begin and end the day with a prayer, to teach us to feel that the friendship and the love of God accompany us. Let us remember the Lord more often in our days!
Let us ask St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary to instruct us to be faithful to our everyday commitments, to live our faith in daily actions and to give even more space to the Lord in our lives, to stop to contemplate his face.