1 May – Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker
The feast of Saint Joseph the Worker is not a mere Catholic copying of the Communist First of May – any more than Christmas is a mere copy of the pagan feast of Saturnalia. The dates are taken over, for obvious reasons; but the content is radically different.
The Christian view of work is the opposite of the materialist view. A worker such as St Joseph is not a mere lump of labour – “1.00 human work units.” He is a person. He is created in God’s own image, and just as creation is an activity of God, so creation is an activity of the worker. The work we do echoes the glorious work that God has done. It may not be wasted; or abused; or improperly paid; or directed to wrong or pointless ends. To do any of these things is not oppression, it is sacrilege. The glory of the present economic system is when it gives so many, of whatever class, the chance to build and create something worthwhile, whether from their own resources, or in collaboration with others, or by attracting investment from others. But its shame is when that does not happen: when people are coerced, by greed or by poverty, into being “lumps of labour.” Whether the labour is arduous or not makes no difference; whether it is richly paid or not makes no difference.
Because she must combat the anti-humanist Communist heresy the Church is sometimes thought to be on the side of capital. Reading the successive Papal encyclicals on labour and society, from Rerum Novarum (1891) onwards, will soon dispel that illusion. The enemies of the Church have no reason to read them; all too often we feel too comfortable in our present economic state and refrain from reading them also.
Paul stood up in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia, held up a hand for silence and began to speak:
‘My brothers, sons of Abraham’s race, and all you who fear God, this message of salvation is meant for you. What the people of Jerusalem and their rulers did, though they did not realise it, was in fact to fulfil the prophecies read on every sabbath. Though they found nothing to justify his death, they condemned him and asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out everything that scripture foretells about him they took him down from the tree and buried him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem: and it is these same companions of his who are now his witnesses before our people.
‘We have come here to tell you the Good News. It was to our ancestors that God made the promise but it is to us, their children, that he has fulfilled it, by raising Jesus from the dead. As scripture says in the second psalm: You are my son: today I have become your father.
Jesus said to his disciples:
Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession
I recently found out that a friend of mine, who was the god-daughter of an aged couple, had inherited a house because the couple decided to bequeath one to her after they lost their only son. Up till then, my friend had been actively looking to buy a property to call her own.
We spend so much time thinking about our earthly inheritance that we sometimes lose sight on what it means to be His heir as His sons or daughters. In a video addressing young men, Jason Evert said to those who were attracted to the same sex and kept referring to themselves as ‘…this is who I am’, “Stop saying that because that is not who you are. You are a son of God. That is who you are.”
If we really understood what it means to be a son or daughter of God, our lives and thoughts would be different. If only we would spend some time reflecting on what a privilege we enjoy with the King of Kings. Many parents would be able to relate to this as they truly know the depth of their love for their children, and the extent to which they would do anything for them. I am privileged to be loved by my parents unconditionally; I cannot think of a single thing that they would deny me. If my earthly parents would do as much, then what is extent of my sonship with the Lord? It is common for children to mirror their parents so today, with our eyes fixed on the risen Lord, how are we acting, thinking or feeling?
Do we love others to the same extent? Do we treat our friends and family members as precious children of a perfect Father? Are our words, thoughts and actions befitting of an heir to an everlasting kingdom? If we think that it is too much to ask of us, let us take a moment to reflect on the obstacles we face. Do we need a change of heart? Is it time to see others with love and dignity? Are our relationships life-giving and do they glorify God?
Even if we do not get it right all the time, a sinless man and God stretched out His mighty arms and paid the price of His blood so that one day, we could enjoy an inheritance better than anything we can ever imagine. He is waiting joyfully for this beautiful family reunion and He literally gave His Son so that people who are half-hearted, unwilling and unworthy could call heaven their home.
Today, let us look around us and find ways to invite others to join our Lord in this heavenly reunion. There are enough rooms for all of us so let us allow the Lord to use us to gather all His children.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Lord, help us to love your royal family and guide us when we go astray.
Thanksgiving: You are the way and the truth and the life. Thank you for making a way for all us to be reunited with you one day.