Gn. 1:26-2:3; Ps. 90; Mt. 13:54-58
Today, on this Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, we are reminded of the important role St. Joseph had in the life of our Blessed Lord. In today’s Gospel passage, we see the people of Nazareth referring to Jesus as the son of the carpenter. The Greek word for carpenter is tektōn, which means “craftsman,” “wood-worker,” or “builder.” This is essentially how we continue to use the word today. Carpenters are skilled with their hands and building things, and they have a keen eye for the way things fit together. St. Joseph had this sense when the angel came to him in a dream saying, “Do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, into your home.” Joseph would have understood that from that moment on, his life was never going to be the same. And what an awesome responsibility it must have been: the creature caring for his Creator.
St. Joseph models for us the ideal man: He does not say a word throughout the Gospel, yet he is obedient to God; he takes Mary into his home, provides for her, and raises Jesus as his own; he was a righteous man, a loving man, a chaste man, who understood that his role was not to take any credit for himself, but rather to ensure that his family would flourish under his care. In short, he’s the type of man all men should strive to be.
What might we learn from St. Joseph the Worker? Well, given that we are now entering phase two of our response to the coronavirus pandemic, when many will begin to return to work, we do well to follow the advice of a carptener: measure twice and cut once. So, I would like to encourage us to look at the situation with keen eyes. Pay close attention to the scientific data and research that has been presented by the doctors fighting this pandemic on the front line. If the goal of phase one was to reduce the potential number of infections to ensure that the healthcare system would not be overwhelmed, we have done a fantastic job of this. Oddly, there are many who would rather keep us in fear and let the country suffer—apparently fear is better for ratings than promoting the dignity of work. Let’s not fall for the rhetoric of those who would seek to keep us in fear, but follow the example of St. Joseph the Worker, who despite the challenges, quietly provided for his family, while remaining connected to God. Our faith gives us perspective. So, let us be mindful of our connection to God, so that with eyes of faith we may once again see the good fruits of our labor.
Given during the COVID-19 pandemic.