Wednesday, May 1, 2019

St. Joseph the Worker

Today, May 1, is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Scriptures do not tell us much about Joseph, but references to Joseph provide profound yet simple reasons for reflection. We are told that Mary is betrothed to Jospeh, a righteous and just man. Since righteous means virtuous and sharing in God's own holiness, and being just speaks of truth, when Mary is found with child, Joseph does not wish to embarrass Mary. Rather, he seeks to protect her. Joseph is described as righteous, just, and a protector.

References to the Holy Family frame their settings and experiences as humble and simple. Joseph is a carpenter who teaches Jesus the trade of working with His hands. Perhaps the Scriptures seek to provide a simple and ordinary context for their family life as an example to which other families can relate and aspire. Simplicity and humility are critical attributes describing Joseph within his family structure.

When we reflect on humility, it is a virtue that seeks, recognizes, and acts on the truth. This enables us to maintain and grow in relationships to ourselves, God, and others. Joseph was a humble man who recognized his place in God's Divine Providence as well as his place in his relationships. His great trust in God enabled him to listen to his heart and the God within him. It allowed for his response to care for and protect Mary and Jesus as husband and foster father.

Joseph's great love and devotion guided him with a purity of intention. This freed him to love deeply as he listened interiorly within the silence and solitude of his family life, relationships, work, and ministry as a carpenter. He obviously possessed the wisdom and judgement to know what was being asked of him and the generous spirit and trust to respond with great care and love.

Love is wishing someone well and wanting the best for that person. Through the everydayness of his life and witness, Joseph demonstrated great love by being steady, faithful, dependable, and trustworthy. He put his love into practice and lived it. His deep faith enabled him to take his family and flee to Egypt when threatened by harm. His deep trust listened when Jesus responded that He must be about His Father's business, God's mission.

Many also invoke St. Joseph as a patron to intercede for them in praying for a happy death. In his openness, simplicity, humility, and quiet presence, his person and life reflect peace and steadfastness. Joseph's deep faith and trust enabled him to be faithful in loving deeply, teaching Jesus values in everyday life as well as the dignity and contributions of working with his hands in serving the community. St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, was known to have a great devotion to and be an advocate for St. Joseph.

Perhaps, as we approach this feast day, we might ask ourselves the following...

  • Do I set aside space and time for solitude and silence in quiet listening to the Spirit within me?
  • Do my everyday actions reflect the values I hold true?
  • Do my relationships with God, myself, and others resonate with my beliefs?
  • Do I recognize my own gifts as well as those of others?
  • Do I celebrate the dignity of work and my contributions to the local and global community?
St. Joseph, pray for us.

Written by Sister Mary Pat Lenahan, SCL

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