On May 1st, the church celebrates the optional feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. It is not a coincidence that Pius XII instituted this feast as a counter point to other May Day celebrations in the world in 1955. The hope was to highlight the dignity of labor and the implicit right that all workers should receive just compensation for just work, sufficient compensation to take care of personal and/or family needs. In the month dedicated to Mary, we honor Saint Joseph, a working man, attributed to be a carpenter or tekton (builder) in the time of Jesus.
For this optional memorial, the church chooses a portion of the creation text from Genesis, Ch. 1 that caught Mary Lynn Rapien’s attention: “Since on the seventh day God finished the work he had been doing, he rested from the work he had undertaken.” God’s work was the gift of creation. We know that creation of the cosmos is continuing and is far from at an end. Our account from Genesis tells us that what God saw was good. We believe that what God does is inherently good. And, we believe God delighted in that work.
In the creation account we hear that God created us in “God’s image and likeness,” men and women God created, two complementary beings and essentially gave us the work of continuing creation. We are entrusted with the responsibility of sustaining the gift given to us, a greater challenge in the coming decades. The work of human beings is to continue what Jesus began, the mission of bringing God’s Good News to all humanity.
Similarly, Joseph was given a specific work to take Mary as his spouse, help her bring her child into the world, the Word made flesh. He was also to provide for his family in the way parents provide for their families today. Even though he was a carpenter his work was more than that, to be an example to Jesus, to be a model of what it means to be made in the image of God. We are all made in God’s image. What is the work God has given us? How do we live out our faith each day? How are we examples of faith to family first, neighbor, second and then with all those whom we meet? Every one of us has abilities to share with others, how are we employing those gifts? It is something to think about.
Easter Blessings, Father Larry Hendel