Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Joseph the worker

Genesis 1:26-2:3; PS 90 Lord, give success to the work of our hands; Matthew 13:54-58

"God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission - I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I have a part in a great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons."   Blessed John Henry Newman 

The feast of St. Joseph the Worker was established by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in order to Christianize the concept of labor and give to all workmen a model and a protector. By the daily labor in his shop, offered to God with patience and joy, St. Joseph provided for the necessities of his holy spouse and of the Incarnate Son of God, and thus became an example to all laborers. "Workmen and all those laboring in conditions of poverty will have reasons to rejoice rather than grieve, since they have in common with the Holy Family daily preoccupations and cares"(Leo XIII).

Today's reading are striking.  Think about the words of Genesis for a moment.

"God created man in his image; in his divine image he created him; male and female he created them."

What does it mean to be created in the image of God?  It is important to remember that the first commandment of God to Moses and the nation of Israel: "I am the Lord your shall have no other gods beside shall not make for yourself an idol or likeness of anything in the heavens above or earth below or water beneath..."  In other words don't make images of god.  Why?

In short, man himself is already the image of God in his capacity to think, to choose, to be free, to use his intellect, to be creative and such. 

Think about that today. 

Now part of being in the image of God is doing what God does.  According to our first reading God rested on the sabbath from all his work.  "So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation."

God rested from all his work.  

All this day of the Feast of Joseph the Worker, it is important to remember not only the necessity of rest but the command to rest, keep holy the sabbath. 

What does out work mean if we never rest?

Especially in today's fast pace reality, rest is essential to life, to a good life.  

We are told to keep the seventh holy.  It is kept holy by imitating God, doing what God does.  He rest.  If the eternal being that is all powerful and all present chooses to rest after his labor of creation, how much more should we enter int o that productive stand still we call rest. 

Jesus rest often in the gospel.  He probably learned from St. Joseph himself.  

As we ponder the work of Joseph's hands at his trade as a carpenter, should we not stop to contemplate his rest, his reprieve from work to better appreciate the holiness of his life.

Here are the words of Pope Francis on this wednesday audience:

"This calls to mind for us the dignity and importance of work. The Book of Genesis tells us that God created man and woman by entrusting to them the task of populating the Earth and subjugating it, which does not mean to exploit it, but to cultivate and guard it, to care for it with their own labour (cf. Gen 1:28; 2:15). The work is part of the plan of God's love; we are called to cultivate and safeguard all the goods of creation and in this way we participate in the work of creation! The work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use an image, "anoints" us with dignity, it fills us with dignity; it makes us similar to God, who has worked and works still, He is always acting (cf. Jn 5:17); it gives the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, to contribute to the growth of one's nation...."

The Pope continues...

"in the silence of his daily activity, St. Joseph shared with Mary a single, common focal point of attention: Jesus. They accompany and guard, with dedication and tenderness, the growth of the Son of God made man for us, reflecting on everything that happens. In the Gospels, Luke points out twice the attitude 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 must learn to contemplate, to perceive His constant presence in our lives; we have to stop and talk to Him, give Him space with prayer. Every one of us, even you adolescent boys and girls, and young people, so numuerous here this morning, should ask yourselves: how much space do I give the Lord? Do I stop to dialogue with Him? Ever since we were little, our parents have 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!

And in this month of May, I would like to recall the importance and the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Reciting the Hail Mary, we are led to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus, to reflect, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and for St. Joseph, He may be the center of our thoughts, our attention and our actions. It would be nice if, especially in this month of May, you would pray together as a family, with your friends, in the parish, the Holy Rosary or some prayer to Jesus and the Virgin Mary! Praying together is a precious moment for making family life and friendship even more stable! Let us learn to pray more in the family and as a family!"

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