Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the essence of the readings from the Holy Scriptures on this day is that we ought to be doing the works that we have been expected to do as the followers and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. The essence of today’s readings is one of action, that is good actions that we need to accomplish in our own respective lives, so that we will be worthy of God and His presence in us that bring us to justification and eternal life.
In the first reading, we heard about the dilemma faced by the early Church with regards to the obedience to the Law of God, and more specifically the laws of Moses passed down through the generations, with all of its modifications and additions, which resulted in a very complicated and numerous set of rules and regulations that the Pharisees and the conservatives in the Jewish society in particular, enforced on the people of God.
These rules and regulations covered everything in the Jewish society, all sorts of etiquettes and expectations in all kinds of activities, from how you ought to wash and purify your hands before you have a meal, and the rites involved in the commemoration of the Sabbath day, not withstanding the strict observation of the sabbath and its prohibition of any sorts of activities, as certainly all of us would have seen throughout the Gospels, how the Pharisees strictly enforced it.
But all these rules and regulations, are they helping in bringing the people closer to God? They are a burden and an unnecessary chore for those who wanted to follow the Lord. Indeed, the Jews themselves did not fulfil the entirety of the obligations of the human laws, and were struggling with it themselves, not to think about how difficult it would be for the different kinds of people at that time, Greeks, Syrians and Romans, and many others who became members of the Church.
These would have to abandon their old ways of life and embrace the strict rules of the Jewish traditions, if the Pharisees and the conservatives among the early Christians were to succeed in their endeavours. It would be difficult, as then those new faithful would be ostracised by their own societies and communities for being different, following a foreign culture instead of their own. But, the Apostles through the Holy Spirit reminded the whole assembly that this is not what the Lord wanted from His people.
Instead, He made it clear to them on many occasions, that if they love Him and truly love Him, they would listen to His words and do as what He had asked them to do. And His words and will are that they ought to love Him with all of their hearts, their minds and with all of their abilities and capacities, giving all of their beings and attention to Him above anything else, and then do the same to their fellow brethren.
It is what the Lord Jesus had revealed to all of us mankind, that His Law, the Law of God is truly the Law of Love. And love is that one should give it his or her all to another whom he or she love, unconditionally and with full intention of love. Love is unconditional and selfless, giving of oneself to another, just as what the Lord Jesus Himself perfectly had shown to us, by His death on the cross, the ultimate love, that no better love exist, other than for one to give His life for another.
But is love just a feeling, or something that we should enjoy with one another? No, it is not, brethren. Love without concrete and real action is empty and meaningless. Love without commitment is empty and without real significance, and it is indeed not love. Love must be active and filled with many good deeds, showing our care and concern for our fellow men and women, and showing our piety and dedication to our Lord.
This therefore ties in perfectly with today’s great celebration, which coincides with the sixth Sunday in the season of Easter. On the first day of May, in the secular world we heard about the term May Day or Labour Day, the day which commemorates all the workers of the world, all those who toil and labour for the sustenance of themselves and their families, and hoping for a better life.
But in the Church, we celebrate it with even more meaning than just worldly work and labours. Today we mark the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. St. Joseph is the foster father of our Lord Jesus, and he was a carpenter in Nazareth, both before and after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was an upright man, who upheld integrity and justice in his profession, and worked with zeal and faith, a model worker for all.
He showed us all that a good worker is not just someone who is looking to gather and gain more money or possession for themselves. Otherwise, he himself would not have been satisfied with the job of a carpenter. A carpenter’s job was an honest and humble job, but at the same time, it was tiresome and does not produce much money, and at that time, the society tended to look down on these kind of menial works.
That was why the people of Nazareth was skeptical and indeed refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, because they thought they knew Him as the Son of a mere carpenter. They looked down on Him and sneered at Him, thinking that He was a nobody Who dared and tried to make Himself famous by breaking through the social prejudice. That is how mankind is, and that is how we ourselves live in our world today. We tend to categorise people and become prejudice against others based on who they are, what they are working as, or in how they act.
But again, God made it clear to all of us, that we should strive for love, and all of us should be honest and upright in all things. A good worker is someone who knows love, and a person who knows how to love is someone who can show their love for another through real and concrete actions and not just through mere words or proclamations.
Thus, all of us are called to love, to obey the Lord’s commandments, that is love. We should not be like the Pharisees who were overly attached to their human laws, rules and regulations that stifled the faithful who wanted to follow the Lord, but was discouraged by the kind of commitment they need to make by obeying those draconian rules.
Yet, we must also be aware that love is not something that is easy to do or to be attained. True love require effort, commitment and sacrifice. Jesus Himself had shown the example for us, that out of His love for us, He was willing to spend His time with us, teaching us and helping us to find the way to God through Him, and He even bore the multitudes of our sins, all the punishments intended for those sins, and bore it upon Himself, carrying that cross to Calvary.
We should walk in our Lord’s footsteps, and in the footsteps of his foster-father, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Joseph the Carpenter. We should be upright and uphold integrity and justice in all of our actions and in all of our dealings with one another. And most importantly of all, as I have emphasised again and again from just now, that we must all have love for each other, and show them through genuine acts of love, and show the same love for our Lord as well.
And all of us who have done all these faithfully, well, we know our heavenly reward is awaiting us at the end of the day. Just as all the workers are rewarded for their hard work and deeds, we too shall be rewarded, so long as we remain faithful to the Lord our God. In the second reading from the Book of Revelations of St. John the Apostle, at the end of that book, we hear about the heavenly city of Jerusalem, the City of God descending from heaven, in which all the faithful shall live forever with God.
And thus, if we are faithful, and if we show love for God and for each other, God shall find us worthy and just, and He shall welcome us into His City, and He shall wipe away all of our tears and sorrows, and place true joy inside each and every one of us. Let us all endeavour and work hard for this purpose, brethren, that all of us will draw ever closer to Him.
Let us all ask for the intercession of His foster-father, St. Joseph the Worker, that he will always intercede for our sake, and pray that all of us may persevere in our good works, for the sake of our salvation. May God bless us all always and keep us in His grace forevermore. Amen.