Thursday, 1 May 2014 : 2nd Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker, which also falls on the same day as the day set aside for the celebration of the right of workers and labourers around the world, commonly known as either the Labour Day or May Day. On this day, workers around the world celebrate their right to equal pay, treatment and rights, as well as even protesting to demand for more, if they did not receive enough.

Today we celebrate the memory of St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, who was also a very diligent worker as a carpenter in the village of Nazareth. St. Joseph is the role model for all workers, not only that he is so diligent and hardworking, but he is also very upright in his actions and did not do things that were in opposition to the Law of God and the teachings of the prophets.

St. Joseph reminded all of us, not just the workers of who we are, namely the children and most beloved of all the creations of the Lord. We were created last by the Lord in creation, and we were made in His image, and as if that is not enough, He also endowed us with His own Spirit that bears life inside each one of us. And yet, we are at the same time, as the first reading from the Book of Genesis mentioned, also made of dust, which the Lord used to craft our mortal bodies of flesh and blood.

Thus the well-known saying that ‘We are dust, and to dust we shall return, which the priest utters every Ash Wednesday as he applies the ash onto our forehead. This is to remind us of our humanity, fragility and mortality, which should keep us to realise that we are in this world as its caretakers and everything that we do, we ought not to do it for our own sake and benefits, but for the sake of the Lord and all our brethren around us.

St. Joseph showed that above all, we should be the bearers of the good will of the Lord, and walk always in the way of God, be righteous in all of our actions and deeds, not turning left or right, or be persuaded or tempted by the world’s persuasions and temptations. As we work, we should always remember to have good work attitudes and openness to suggestions and advice, and not to close ourselves off from cooperating with others.

A truly major problem with our world and its working force is that we no longer work for the good of one another, but we ended up to be in the sole pursuit of one thing, that is money and even other forms of material possessions. As I have often mentioned, money is not necessarily evil, and indeed, it is perfectly neutral and is completely not a vice that we should avoid. The evil lies in us, that is in how we attempt to gain it, how we gain it, and eventually how we use it, and what we use it for.

This world has increasingly become a commercialised and materialistic world, where you can almost literally say that money is king, for those who have more will not just tend to have even more, but that they also are likely to have a better and more enjoyable life. For many of us, working and our actions in work had become nothing more than literally slaving away our lives and our precious time for money, and more money.

We forget that when we work we should be more like St. Joseph, who worked with great simplicity and humility, and while being serious and dedicated to his works, he dedicated it out of love towards God and to his fellow men. As a carpenter, he certainly did not earn much from his works, but certainly from every single furniture he crafted for those who ordered them from him, he gained much gladness and satisfaction, seeing the happiness on their faces seeing the completed product.

Surely we all can visualise and imagine how St. Joseph had worked hard to help provide for the Holy Family, for Jesus our Lord and Mary His mother. It is this kind of simple and yet genuine devotion to one’s work based in love that is the kind of work attitude that we need to have and follow. Sadly the truth is indeed that we have been so caught up in our busy life schedules and careers that we end up forgetting what is the most important thing in our lives.

As St. Joseph has shown us, we cannot discount God out of our lives, as without God our lives will be meaningless and empty, and this is also the reason why so many of us lost our true purpose as we work, that we no longer work for the benefits of others around us, and instead, for our own benefit, that is for our own selves, in our great ego, desire and greed.

It is easy these days to be tempted, brethren, for the temptations of goodness of this world is basically all around us, from all the promotions and commercials that we are exposed to every single day of our lives, that we really cannot escape but notice how much good that this world can grant us. Therefore we are prone to fall into this trap of materialism and commercialism, where we desire more and more the goods of this world, while forgetting that the true purpose we have in this world is to love and to dedicate ourselves completely to the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate today’s occasion on the feast of St. Joseph the worker and the day of celebration of labour, let us always be reminded that we should not be working for the sake of working and to seek for more and more material goods. Instead, as we work, let us have a good purpose to it, especially praising and glorifying the Lord our God.

St. Joseph the worker, the foster-father of our Lord, pray for us all, that we will seek less of our own glory and pleasure when we so something or work, that we do not become creature of ego or the servant of material possessions. Help us through your prayers that we may instead work for the good of one another, and be dedicated to our work just as you had been dedicated to yours. May God be with us all and bless our work at all times. Amen.