St. Joseph the Worker, May 1

Genesis 1:26 - 2:3 / Matthew 13:54-58 
Jesus identifies himself with workers: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?”

Charlotte Chandler wrote a book in 1984 called The Ultimate Seduction. In it she shares insights into the philosophies of famous people concerning the role work played in their lives and in their quest for happiness and fulfillment. She comes to the conclusion that for people of outstanding achievement, work was not a task but a passion— often the vital passion of their lives. She says: “This work has grown out of ... a vision that they felt compelled to share with the world. They are the ones who put on the ruby slippers, followed the yellow brick road, and found Oz.”
What is our own attitude toward work? The religious imagination of Jesus consistently used images of work to describe the kingdom of his Father.
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Joseph and specifically under the title of St. Joseph the Worker. Hence St. Joseph is also the patron of all working people, besides being the patron of the Church, fathers and carpenters and also of the dying. Being a patron of all working people, we would feel a deep affiliation with St. Joseph because we spend a considerable amount of time at work.

And we could relate with him in what was told of us in the scriptures. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man. We know he was a carpenter, a working man, and in the gospel a sceptical question was asked about Jesus, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55).

He wasn't rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified, he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

There is much we wish we could know about Joseph, about where and when he was born, about how he spent his days, about when and how he died. But Scripture has left us with one of the most important knowledge of who he was - "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:18).

May we always turn to St. Joseph for his intercession before and at the end of our work. May we also be righteous and honest in our dealings at work and with our superiors and colleagues so that in all we do at work, we will give glory to God.
St. Joseph is known by many titles. The Litany of St. Joseph gives most of them and it expresses the roles and the virtues of St. Joseph.

Even without referring to the Litany, we may remember some of the titles of St. Joseph - Head of the Holy Family, patron of workers, patron of the sick and dying, protector of the Church.

Today the Church celebrates one of the titles of St. Joseph and it is celebrated as a Solemnity. St. Joseph is called the Spouse of Mary, and it is a title that was recently added into the Eucharistic prayer. In the Litany, he is called the Spouse of the Mother of God.

This title of St. Joseph is first mentioned in the gospel when it said that Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

It is a profound title, though we tend to know of St. Joseph in what he can do for us, namely for his intercession for our work, when we are ill or for those who are dying. The greatness of St. Joseph was his humility in accepting the will of God and that meant giving up his plans and hopes for his own future.
Mary was betrothed to St. Joseph, but before they came to live together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. St. Joseph, being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally.

And that was when God came into the situation and St. Joseph had to make some decisions.

He eventually did as he was told, though he may not have understood everything. And in that sense St. Joseph would have understood our every difficulty and struggle when it comes to the will of God.

In accepting God's will, St. Joseph accepted to be the Spouse of Mary, he accepted to be the foster-father of Jesus, he accepted everything that God entrusted him with, and as well as giving up everything that he had planned for.

And for that God bestowed him a greatness for eternity. May St. Joseph pray for us too that we follow him to accept God's will with humility.

 We have the description of St. Joseph only in the Gospels of Mathew and Luke. They present him as Joseph, the just man and Joseph, the dreamer

(A) Joseph, the just man: (Matthew. 1:19). In the Biblical sense, a just man is one who faithfully does his duties to God, to lawful authorities and to his fellow human beings.

(B) Joseph did his duties to God faithfully by obeying His laws revealed through Moses, through his king and through his foster son Jesus.

1.       He obeyed the Mosaic laws: i) by circumcising and naming Jesus on the 8th day, ii) by presenting Mary with her child in the Temple for the purification ceremony, iii) by making Jesus “son of the Law,” bringing him to the Temple of Jerusalem for the feast of Passover at the age of twelve.
2.       He obeyed his King’s law by taking his pregnant wife Mary to Bethlehem for the census ordered by the Emperor.
3.       He obeyed Jesus by respecting his desires and opinion. (Lk.2: 49)

(C) Joseph did his duties to others faithfully:

1.       to his wife by giving her loving protection in spite of his previous suspicion about her miraculous pregnancy. He could have divorced her.” Pope John Paul II: St. Joseph protected Mary “discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand.”
2.       to Jesus by training him in his trade, in the Law of Moses and in good conduct (Lk. 2:52).
3.       to his neighbours by being an ideal carpenter and handyman and good neighbour.

(D)- Joseph, the dreamer (like Joseph in the O.T.)

Dreaming in the Old Testament was one-way God used to communicate His will to men. Joseph received instructions from God through three dreams: 
i)Do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife” (Mt.1:20); 
ii) “Get up, take the Child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave” (Mt. 2:13); 
iii) “Get up, take the Child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel” (Mt.5:20).

(E) Life Messages: 

1) We need to lead saintly lives by becoming faithful in little things, as St. Joseph was. “Bloom where you are planted” was the favourite advice of St. Francis de Sales. Let us love our profession and do good to others.
2) We need to consult God daily in prayer to know His will and to do it.
3) We need to be just, as St. Joseph was, by “giving everyone his or her due.”
4) We need to raise our families in the spirit of the Holy Family and to be responsible, God-fearing, ideal parents like Joseph and Mary. 5) Let us become protectors like St. Joseph, by keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that builds up and tear down!  We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!” (Pope John Paul II).