Saturday, May 01, 2004
St. Joseph, the Worker  

Today's feast of St. Joseph, the Worker reminds us of the dignity of work. Far from being a curse, God originally designed work as part of our human experience. In Genesis 2:15, it reads that "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it." And one of today's possible first mass readings is from earlier in the book of Genesis (1:26-2:3) where it describes the work of creation which God did for us. The passage ends by describing how the Lord rested from His work on the seventh day. He hallowed this day. The Sabbath which was established in the Mosaic Law and included in the Ten Commandments which picks up this idea of the Sabbath rest and its connection to Creation: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy ... For in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day" (Exodus 20:8,11).

It is only after the Fall that work becomes burdensome. God declares in Genesis 3:17-19, "cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground." This was not God's original intent for work, but because of Adam's sin, work became difficult. Nonetheless, work has great dignity because it is done unto the Lord.

As St. Paul writes in the other optional reading for today from Colossians, our work should be done as if the Lord was our boss because He is. "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him...Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ" (3:17,23-24).

St. Joseph, the just man, exemplifies this attitude of performing his work unto God. As a husband, father, and carpenter, St. Joseph accepted the tasks which the Lord gave him. He performed them with an amazing obedience. When he was commanded by an angel to take Mary as his wife, St. Matthew records that St. Joseph awoke from the dream and did as the angel had told him (1:24). Again, an angel told St. Joseph in a dream to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt, and St. Joseph quickly obeyed (2:14). Finally, Jesus was identified as the son of St. Joseph, the carpenter. Joseph was know for his work.

Today we are reminded to do our work unto the Lord even as St. Joseph did. Even the most difficult and mundane task is made into a holy offering to God, if it is done with love. This was the key for St. Joseph, he did his work because of his love for God. This can be the key for us, too.

Posted by David at 10:14 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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