Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd 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 the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, just as the secular world celebrates the occasion of Labour Day or May Day. On this day we recall the good examples set by St. Joseph, who is the foster-father of Our Lord and Saviour, and also the head of the Holy Family as its protector and guide. The Church respects and honours St. Joseph as its protector, its role model and as a great saint, precisely because of his uprightness in life and his devotion to his mission, entrusted to him by God.

St. Joseph was a mere carpenter, and yet, his many virtues and courage have been extolled and honoured throughout the centuries by the Church. At that time, as it is indeed still today, the profession of a carpenter is often one that is looked down upon by the people, forgotten and taken for granted, as without carpenters, a lot of our daily activities, and even more so at the time of Jesus’ life, could not have happened properly.

As carpenters made the tools necessary for daily living, basic activities such as farming, fishing, and even houses and furnitures, their work was truly crucial for the survival of the community at the time, and yet, despite the hard labour and many hours they had to spend with the hammer and chisel, in high risk of injury and exhaustion, their role and contributions were often overlooked and ignored by the society in general.

The bias and prejudice can be very clearly seen in our Gospel passage today, when we heard how the people of Nazareth, the hometown where the Lord Jesus lived in and spent His early years, together with His family as the adopted Son of St. Joseph, the village carpenter. And the people came to know Him as the Son of a carpenter, and therefore, when He came before them full of age and full of divine wisdom, proclaiming the truth of God before all of them, they found it hard to believe in His words and in His truth.

They ridiculed Him and refused to believe in Him, because to them the Lord was no better than a mere Son of a carpenter, a poor and humble job, often overlooked and ignored, treated with contempt and ignorance at best. To them a carpenter is an uneducated person and a poor and belonging to the lowest of the lowest just as many of the people in Nazareth were. And that was why, out of either disbelief or jealousy, the people there refused to believe in the Lord.

But the Lord carried on doing His works, and although He was distraught that those people refused to believe in Him, He did not let it affect His commitment to do what His heavenly Father has entrusted to Him. He must have experienced many of such injustices, biases, and challenges that His poor carpenter’s family must have experienced, at a time when the people also suffered oppression under both the Romans and the Herodian kings.

Surely, He must have learnt it also through His foster-father, St. Joseph himself, the carpenter whom everyone probably often looked down upon. St. Joseph, although poor and had to labour very hard to make ends meet, as carpentry did not give a lot of provisions and income, but he was upright and just in all things, obedient to the Law of God, pious and faithful, and responsible to whatever he was entrusted with, including his role as the protector of the Holy Family.

He went all the extra mile, both figuratively and literally, when the Lord entrusted to Him the care for His Saviour, Jesus Christ, and His mother, Mary, whom St. Joseph took care as wife and as a dutiful husband and father to both of them. He escorted and protected them all the way as there were difficulties and oppositions along the way, all those who wanted the Lord Jesus dead, and even brought both Mary and the Baby Jesus into Egypt to protect them from all of His enemies.

In all of these, we should have seen just how dedicated, hardworking and faithful St. Joseph was. And that is why he is seen as the patron, role model and protector for all workers. And we should indeed ask St. Joseph for his protection and intercession, that all of us may be good workers and good labourers in our respective fields and responsibilities, and for those among us who have not yet worked or have retired from our work, that we will be able to emulate his examples in living up a virtuous Christian life from now on if we have not done so.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be ever more faithful and be dedicated to the Lord, and let us all turn to Him through the examples of St. Joseph, holy worker and holy servant of God, that by following his examples we may draw ever closer to God and be more worthy Christians, day after day of our life. May God be with us always, and may He give us the strength and the courage to live our lives faithfully. Amen.

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