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.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 33 : 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

I will bless the Lord all my days; His praise will be ever on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the lowly hear and rejoice.

Oh, let us magnify the Lord, together let us glorify His Name! I sought the Lord, and He answered me; from all my fears He delivered me.

They who look to Him are radiant with joy, their faces never clouded with shame. When the poor cry out, the Lord hears and saves them from distress.

The Lord’s Angel encamps and patrols to keep safe those who fear Him. Oh, see and taste the goodness of the Lord! Blessed is the one who finds shelter in Him!

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.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 5 : 17-26

The High Priest and all his supporters, that is the party of the Sadducees, became very jealous of the Apostles; so they arrested them and had them thrown into the public jail. But an Angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison during the night, brought them out, and said to them, “Go and stand in the Temple court and tell the people the whole of this living message.” Accordingly they entered the Temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.

When the High Priest and his supporters arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin, that is the full Council of the elders of Israel. They sent word to the jail to have the prisoners brought in. But when the Temple guards arrived at the jail, they did not find them inside, so they returned with the news, “We found the prison securely locked and the prison guards at their post outside the gate, but when we opened the gate, we found no one inside.”

Upon hearing these words, the captain of the Temple guard and the high priests were baffled, wondering where all of this would end. Just then someone arrived with the report, “Look, those men whom you put in prison are standing in the Temple, teaching the people.” Then the captain went off with the guards and brought them back, but without any show of force, for fear of being stoned by the people.

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.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018 : 5th 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 feast of St. Joseph the Worker, just as the world celebrates May Day or Labour Day today remembering the hard work contributed by the workers from all over the world. As Christians, we recall the great virtues of St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster-father of Our Lord and Saviour.

St. Joseph was a carpenter as the Gospels mentioned, and he lived and worked in the small village called Nazareth in Galilee, where he met the young virgin named Mary, and as we all know, they became the member of the Holy Family together with the Lord Jesus, born in Bethlehem under their guardianship and loving care. St. Joseph protected the young Lord Jesus ever since His birth, bringing Him over to Egypt for protection upon the Angel’s guidance, and then returning with Him and Mary to Nazareth once it was safe for them to do so.

St. Joseph brought up the Lord Jesus together with Mary, His mother, and likely taught the young Jesus how to live in this world, and probably have taught Him his trades and skills as a carpenter as well. The villagers of Nazareth themselves, many years later, would remember the Lord Jesus as the Son of the carpenter at the time when He came to them, revealing His true nature and Who He really was.

Unfortunately, at that time, the people disparaged the Lord and treated Him badly, refusing to believe in His teachings and words, even though they have witnessed the great works He had done, and heard the many amazing stories and feats that Jesus had done, all because of the fact that they knew Him well as the Son of the village carpenter, St. Joseph. Despite being an honest and upright man himself, people at the time often looked down at his profession as a carpenter.

A carpenter was taught to be a menial job that no one wanted, and if possible, one would try to avoid having to do such a job for a living. Why is that so? That is because the work was tough and back-breaking, and yet the returns were minimal. One could not get rich depending on such a work, and generally, such a work like a carpenter does not bring prestige or honour for whoever it was who took it as a profession.

But St. Joseph showed the true mentality and attitude of a worker who was rooted in God and who was devoted to his cause as expressed through his works. Despite his unfavourable conditions and all the difficulties he might have experienced, and even the humiliations he might have endured and despite the temptations he might have received, in escaping the condition he was in, St. Joseph remained faithful to the mission entrusted to him by God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us should follow the example of St. Joseph, the faithful and honest worker, devout servant of God. He was humble and committed, righteous and just, despite having been chosen by God to be the protector of the Holy Family and the Messiah, and despite being the heir of David. He followed God’s commandments and was a good father at the same time, protecting and guiding the young Lord Jesus, bringing Him up in the best way possible.

To all of us Christians, St. Joseph is a great role model and an inspiration. All of us should follow his examples, that in all of our dealings, in all of our work, we do not forget about God, and centre our lives and all that we do in God. Otherwise, it is very easy for us to fall into the temptations set up on us by Satan and all of his wicked forces, all of whom are trying to snatch us from God.

There are many temptations around us, brothers and sisters, and we must be aware of them, lest we fall. In our work and in our career, as we are probably quite aware, many of us are striving to attain more recognition, more payouts and more benefits, seeking to gain greater achievement and attain greater glory. As such, many of us spend hours after hours trying to gain for ourselves all of these, but often, at the expense of those who are dear to us.

And not least, in our pursuit for power, glory, wealth and human recognition, we often neglect God and we also forget about our obligations to Him. As such, we end up becoming more and more distant from Him and separated from Him, and we become easy prey for Satan, who will drag us deeper into the trap of sin he has prepared for those of us who are unable to resist the temptation of worldliness and earthly pleasures. Many of us also end up doing whatever we can in order to get more of what we desire, at the cost of causing pain and suffering for others.

Let us all instead, follow the example of St. Joseph, and strive to resist the temptations of our desires and greed. Indeed, it will not be an easy path to take, as challenges will definitely be plenty, and there will be lots of opposition, but surely, all of these are worthwhile, for God will surely reward us at the very end, all of His loyal servants and disciples, when He comes again to gather all of His faithful ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, inspired by the great examples of St. Joseph the Worker, and remembering what it is that all of us Christians ought to actually be doing in our lives, let us all strive to build up for ourselves the eternal riches in God, through our faith, love and commitment to serve God with all of our hearts, by loving one another, and not to put our trust in worldly possessions and riches, all of which are just mere illusory and temporary in nature.

May the Lord be with us always, and be with all of our work and endeavours, so that in everything we say, act and do, we will always do them, for the greater glory of God. St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us always. Amen.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 14 : 27-31a

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you! I give you My peace; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled; do not be afraid. You heard Me say, ‘I am going away, but I am coming to you.’ If you loved Me, you would be glad that I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

“I have told you this now before it takes place, so that when it does happen you may believe. It is very little what I may still tell you, for the prince of this world is at hand, although there is nothing in Me that he can claim. But see, the world must know that I love the Father, and that I do what the Father has taught Me to do.”

Alternative reading (Reading for 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.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 144 : 10-11, 12-13ab, 21

All Your works will give You thanks; all Your saints, o Lord, will praise You. They will tell of the glory of Your kingdom and speak of Your power.

That all may know of Your mighty deeds, Your reign and its glorious splendour. Your reign is from age to age; Your dominion endures from generation to generation.

Let my mouth speak in praise of the Lord, let every creature bless His holy Name, forever and ever.

Alternative reading (Reading for 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.