Monday, 1 May 2017 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate together the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, remembering the foster-father of our Lord, St. Joseph who was a carpenter of the village of Nazareth. He was just a mere carpenter, a profession which was not highly respected at that time, considered a menial labour and job for the poor people, and yet, he was an upright and just man, who obeyed God in all of His commandments.

He worked hard to meet the daily needs for himself, and later on, also for his family, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. As the breadwinner and head of the family, he must have laboured hard to sustain and provide for the whole family. The job as a carpenter was surely not an easy one, as carpenters even today can attest to. The job was tough and consumed many hours, and yet the pay was minimal.

Yet, St. Joseph remained true to his work and to his calling, which he had been called to, to be the foster-father of the Lord and the protector of the entire Holy Family. He remained true to the mission he had been entrusted with, and he was ever faithful, protecting Mary as she was heavily pregnant, while they were going down from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census. He guided her through from inn to inn, and dwelling to dwelling, even though all of them rejected them because they were all already full.

And when king Herod wanted to kill the newborn Baby Jesus, the Angel of God instructed St. Joseph to bring both Him and Mary to the land of Egypt, so that He might be hidden away from those who would want to cause Him harm, like Herod and the other enemies of the Lord. What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that livelihood must have been hard for St. Joseph and for his family, as that meant, St. Joseph would have to live in exile in Egypt for the time when Jesus was there, and not being able to return to Nazareth meant that he must have laboured hard in the foreign land trying to make ends meet for his family.

But St. Joseph never complained, and he remained true to his calling. He accompanied the Holy Family and led it through times of joy and through times of difficulty. He was there for the young Jesus as He was growing up in body and stature. It was likely that he taught Jesus the skills required to survive in life, and likely taught him carpentry skills. St. Joseph worked hard throughout his life, and he is an inspiration to all of us who also work, and who also worry about our daily living, on how we are to make ends meet for ourselves and for our families.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on the life and the works of St. Joseph, let us all spend some time to ask ourselves this question. What is work and our career for us? What is the significance of what we are doing in our daily work, in our workplace, in all the busy things and schedules we filled our lives with? Is there meaning to all the things that we are doing in life?

Many of us instinctively will say that we are working in order to gain more money and wealth, to make sure that we are able to sustain our lives, providing for our daily needs. However, do we all realise that we can be easily distracted from what we ought to do in life, and we end up having the wrong focus in our work and in our daily efforts? It is because of our greed and desire, which caused us to lose focus on what working in life truly means.

Let us reflect, brothers and sisters, on all the time when we have become too busy in our lives, too busy trying to aim for promotion in our career, looking for more opportunities to gain renown, fame, recognition and praise from others around us, and in the process, we end up neglecting our families, our relatives and those whom we love, just because we have been too busy with our work, but with the wrong focus.

And we know how some people, if not many of them, in their pursuit for money, for power, for influence and other things, sought illegal and unjust means in order to attain and obtain whatever it is that they desired. This resulted in the corruption of the hearts and minds, as we fall into sin because of our unbridled and uncontrolled desire. This is what we all must avoid doing, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all model ourselves after the good worker and the faithful servant of God, St. Joseph, the carpenter, the just and upright man, a hardworking person, and the foster-father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was exemplary in his life and actions, in how he committed himself to his work, and in how he has obeyed the Lord in all of his life’s deeds. In the same manner therefore, we too should do the same in our own respective lives.

Let us all inspire one another, and help one another in reaching out to God and to His salvation. May the Lord help us all in all of our endeavours, and may He bless all of our works, so that not only that we will do our work from now on, keeping in mind that it is God for whom ultimately we labour for in this world, and not for ourselves. Let us all pray that we shall be given the strength to persevere through all sorts of challenges in life. Amen.

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