Saturday, 1 May 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the occasion of the celebration of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker which falls on the first day of May every year. On this day, which is also celebrated as May Day or Labour Day by secular organisations and governments all around the world, we remember the nature of Christian work and charity as highlighted in the role model of all Christian workers, that is St. Joseph, the foster-father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was a carpenter in the small town of Nazareth.

St. Joseph was the model of virtue for all Christians, of obedience and righteous living and as a simple, humble carpenter, he led a mostly unassuming life in a small, unassuming town of Nazareth, in Galilee at the peripheries of the Jewish world and community at that time. As a carpenter, he was often overlooked and ignored, needed by the community but often unappreciated and disregarded by them in general, as carpenter was considered as the job of the illiterate and the uneducated, skilled but without much power and influence, or fame and glory.

That is why when the Lord came to Nazareth, His own hometown to reveal to the people there, His own townspeople regarding the truth that He has brought into this world, He was ridiculed and rejected, as the people there pointed out how He was just the Son of the village carpenter, a lowly person without much pedigree and status, and therefore, they ridiculed and rejected Him as such, even though He truly had spoken in such great wisdom and authority and done many wonderful deeds before them and across all of Galilee.

That brings us therefore to the reality of our world today, brothers and sisters in Christ, a world where workers all over the world are often under-appreciated and under-provided, treated badly and subjected to horrible working conditions and being treated unfairly, while those who manipulated and exploited them had free reign in doing whatever they wanted in order to maximise profits for themselves and to enjoy the fruits of those who have laboured under them without fair compensation and treatment.

That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called in our own respective lives to reflect on the realities of our world’s working community and the well-being of workers in general. We are called as employers and those who are in the position of influence and power to be fair in how we treat our fellow men, and not to treat those whom God had entrusted to be under our authority and guidance without justice. And as those who are working, and are labouring, we are also called to be just and virtuous ourselves, that we treat one another with respect, and also obey the good rules and laws of our employment.

Today, as Christians, all of us as part of the same Christian community, assembly of all the faithful, are called to be more like St. Joseph in how we live our lives, as humble and God-centred people, as those who place God as the focus of our respective lives and obey His will and His laws as we carry on living our lives and doing whatever we can throughout life in order to fulfil our obligations as Christians, to be good role models for one another and to be faithful witnesses and disciples of Our Lord through our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us also take some time to reflect on how we are going forward in our lives and balancing our work obligations, our commitments in life, and most importantly our faith life and relationship with God. It is too often that many people have been so absorbed into their work and career that they ended up forgetting that their work and career is only a means to an end. Instead, they allow those things to control them and enslave them to their own desires and ambitions.

Let us all not lose sight of our true focus on life, brothers and sisters, that is the Lord, our God. He is the true centre of our lives, the reason of our very existence, and why we labour daily in order to glorify His Name by our works, and proclaim His truth through our exemplary faith and dedication. Let us all be the pillars of virtue and justice as St. Joseph, the righteous and virtuous Worker had shown us, as a most devoted servant of God and as the Protector of the Church.

Let us ask St. Joseph for his constant intercession, for all of us working out there, and especially for those who are on the forefront of the struggle against the pandemic, all of our frontline healthcare workers, who toiled daily, day and night to care for the need of those who are sick and suffering. Let us ask him to pray for the sake of all those who have also been exploited and manipulated for their work without fair treatment and justice, that God may recourse them and protect them in their hour of need.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, to be His most faithful disciples, doing our respective work and duties in life, first and foremost as Christians, and living our lives genuinely with faith, in our working places and within each and every one of our communities. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Saturday, 1 May 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 7-14

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “If you know Me, you will know the Father also; indeed you know Him, and you have seen Him.”

Philip asked Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that is enough.” Jesus said to him, “What! I have been with you so long and you still do not know Me, Philip? Whoever sees Me sees the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?”

“All that I say to you, I do not say of Myself. The Father Who dwells in Me is doing His own work. Believe Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; at least believe it on the evidence of these works that I do. Truly, I say to you, the one who believes in Me will do the same works that I do; and he will even do greater than these, for I am going to the Father.”

“Everything you ask in My Name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Indeed, anything you ask, calling upon My Name, I will do it.”

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Saturday, 1 May 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Sing to YHVH a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

YHVH has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love, nor His faithfulness to Israel.

The farthest ends of the earth all have seen God’s saving power. All you, lands, make a joyful noise to YHVH, break into song and sing praise.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 12-13, 14 and 16

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children.

Saturday, 1 May 2021 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 44-52

The following Sabbath almost the entire city gathered to listen to Paul, who spoke a fairly long time about the Lord. But the presence of such a crowd made the Jews jealous. So they began to oppose, with insults, whatever Paul said.

Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out firmly, saying, “It was necessary, that God’s word be first proclaimed to you, but since you now reject it, and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we turn to non-Jewish people. For thus we were commanded by the Lord : I have set you as a light to the pagan nations, so that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Those who were not Jews rejoiced, when they heard this, and praised the message of the Lord; and all those, destined for everlasting life, believed in it. Thus the word spread, throughout the whole region. Some of the Jews, however, incited God-fearing women of the upper class, and the leading men of the city, as well, and stirred up an intense persecution against Paul and Barnabas.

Finally, they had them expelled from their region. The Apostles shook the dust from their feet, in protest against this people, and went to Iconium, leaving; the disciples, filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Genesis 1 : 26 – Genesis 2 : 3

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God said, “I have given you every seed bearing plants which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day. That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested from all the work He had done in His creation.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Colossians 3 : 14-15, 17, 23-24

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly, working for the Lord, and not for humans. You well know, that the Lord will reward you with the inheritance. You are servants, but your Lord is Christ.

Friday, 1 May 2020 : 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, the first day of the month of May, which is celebrated all across the world as the Labour Day and May Day, the Church celebrates the great feast of the Patron of all workers, namely that of St. Joseph the Worker, a great saint and one of the most important figures in the Church as the Foster-Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. St. Joseph the Worker was also upright, virtuous and good in all the things he had done, a hardworking servant of God in all things.

St. Joseph is the Protector of the Universal Church for the important roles he had taken up in his life, in his tireless efforts to protect his family, the young Baby Jesus and His mother Mary. St. Joseph was the one who brought the Holy Family safely first to Bethlehem, when Mary gave birth to the Lord Jesus in a stable, and then later on, St. Joseph brought them to Egypt on the run from king Herod the Great and his agents trying to have the Lord Jesus murdered. It was also him who then brought them all back to Nazareth, where St. Joseph and Mary raised up Jesus well.

St. Joseph was just a mere carpenter, an occupation that did not earn a lot of money, then as well as even today. Even today, carpenters are often forgotten and easily overlooked, and they are even looked down upon and disrespected by many segments of the community. St. Joseph was a poor carpenter of a small village of Nazareth, a backwater area in the whole Jewish world and even more so in the greater world. Galilee, where Nazareth was, was at the periphery of the Jewish lands, and many of the people in Judea and Jerusalem looked down on the Galileans because of that, and all the more for a poor, unknown carpenter like St. Joseph.

Yet, St. Joseph was full of virtues and faith, and he dedicated his life to the service of God, raising the Lord Himself as his own foster Son, with great dedication and hardwork, not minding his reputation and anything else. He did his work for the greater glory of God and not for his own personal ambitions, glory or desires. Normally these are what most people would have sought for and desired over, such things like glory, wealth, reputation, fame among others, but not so for St. Joseph.

That is why we all look up at St. Joseph, the Worker, as the Patron saint of all workers and everyone in the workforce and in various employments. He is our great role model in how he lived his life, in how he devoted himself and his work to God, and in his tireless pursuit of the glorification of God rather than his own glory, vanity and power. That is why today, we celebrate the great virtues by which St. Joseph had lived his life and carried out his missions and efforts dutifully throughout his life.

Today, therefore, as we commemorate this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, let us first of all remember all workers all around the world, in various occupations, particularly all those who are struggling with their work and all those who are about to lose their employment or rice bowl of income. We know of just how devastating the current terrible coronavirus pandemic had been to many workers in various sectors of employment and the society, how many businesses and companies had folded and closed down because of this pandemic as well as other issues.

Let us remember them in our prayers and ask St. Joseph the Worker to intercede for their sake, that the Lord will be with them all and guide them through these difficult times, that hopefully they will be able to find their good way out of their current predicament. And therefore, we also must not forget all those who are now working tirelessly to sustain themselves and their families, all those who are employed in the essential services and also all those who are trying their best to sustain their families in this great and needy moments.

We should also ask St. Joseph the Worker to intercede for all of our frontline workers, all those healthcare workers and all the personnel involved in the frontline of the battle against the pandemic, as well as others involved in the planning and the efforts to maintain the whole communities of people under these most difficult and challenging of times. Let us ask for the intercession of St. Joseph the Worker that through him, the Lord may be moved to show His mercy, compassion and love to all of us suffering now.

And lastly, let us all ourselves be inspired by the great examples set by St. Joseph the Worker in his life, his virtues and his dedication to the Lord. Let us all be shining examples of virtue and good work ourselves, by living our lives following the good examples of St. Joseph, by being faithful in all things, upright and virtuous in our actions and dealings, in how we interact with one another, and more. Let us all strive to be ever more faithful with each and every passing moments of our lives.

May the Lord continue to guide us and bless us in our works and efforts, and may He show us His mercy and love, particularly during these most difficult and challenging moments we are encountering at the moment. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 1 May 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 6 : 52-59

At that time, the Jews were arguing among themselves, “How can this Man give us flesh to eat?” So Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. The one who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

“My Flesh is really food, and My Blood is truly drink. Those who eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, lives in Me, and I in them. Just as the Father, Who is life, sent Me, and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will have life from Me. This is the Bread which came from heaven; not like that of your ancestors, who ate and later died. Those who eat this Bread will live forever.”

Jesus spoke in this way in Capernaum when He taught them in the synagogue.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Friday, 1 May 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1, 2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Psalm 89 : 2, 3-4, 12-13, 14 and 16

Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children.

Friday, 1 May 2020 : 3rd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 9 : 1-20

Meanwhile Saul considered nothing but violence and death for the disciples of the Lord. He went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues of Damascus that would authorise him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, belonging to the Way.

As he travelled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?” And he asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus Whom you persecute. Now get up and go into the city; there you will be told what you are to do.”

The men who were travelling with him stood there speechless : they had heard the sound, but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground and, opening his eyes, he could not see. They took him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. He was blind and he did not eat or drink for three days.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, to whom the Lord called in a vision, “Ananias!” He answered, “Here I am, Lord!” Then the Lord said to him, “Go at once to Straight Street and ask, at the house of Judas, for a man of Tarsus named Saul. You will find him praying, for he has just seen in a vision that a man named Ananias has come in and placed his hands upon him, to restore his sight.”

Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man and all the harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem, and now he is here with authority from the High Priest to arrest all who call upon Your Name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go! This man is My chosen instrument to bring My Name to the pagan nations and their kings, and the people of Israel as well. I Myself will show him how much he will have to suffer for My Name.”

So Ananias left and went to the house. He laid his hands upon Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may receive your sight and be filled with Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see; he got up and was baptised. Then he took food and was strengthened.

For several days Saul stayed with the disciples at Damascus, and he soon began to proclaim in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Genesis 1 : 26 – Genesis 2 : 3

God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, to Our likeness. Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground.” So God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over every living creature that moves on the ground.” God said, “I have given you every seed bearing plants which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree that bears fruit with seed. It will be for your food. To every wild animal, to every bird of the sky, to everything that creeps along the ground, to everything that has the breath of life, I give every green plant for food.” So it was.

God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. There was evening and there was morning : the sixth day. That was the way the sky and earth were created and all their vast array. By the seventh day the work God had done was completed, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day He rested from all the work He had done in His creation.

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Colossians 3 : 14-15, 17, 23-24

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly, working for the Lord, and not for humans. You well know, that the Lord will reward you with the inheritance. You are servants, but your Lord is Christ.

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.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 16-21

At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world; instead, through Him the world is to be saved.”

“Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned. He who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God. This is how the Judgment is made : Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

“For whoever does wrong hates the light, and does not come to the light, for fear that his deeds will be seen as evil. But whoever lives according to the truth comes into the light, so that it can be clearly seen that his works have been done in God.”

Alternative reading (Mass of St. Joseph)

Matthew 13 : 54-58

At that time, Jesus went to His hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, “Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Is He not the carpenter’s Son? Is Mary not His mother and are James, Joseph, Simon and Judas not His brothers? Are not all His sisters living here? How did He get all this?” And so they took offence at Him.

Jesus said to them, “The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family.” And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.