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Monday, May 1, 2017

Sanctify Your Work on this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

St. Joseph working for the Holy Family
is a great model for our own families.
In honor of St. Joseph I'm reading Pope Saint John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation, Guardian of the Redeemer. In Chapter IV, the saint reminds us that work is "an expression of love:"
Human work, and especially manual labor, receive special prominence in the Gospel. Along with the humanity of the Son of God, work too has been taken up in the mystery of the Incarnation, and has also been redeemed in a special way. At the workbench where he plied his trade together with Jesus, Joseph brought human work closer to the mystery of the Redemption....What is crucially important here is the sanctification of daily life, a sanctification which each person must acquire according to his or her own state, and one which can be promoted according to a model accessible to all people: "St. Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies;...he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need of great things -- it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic."
What is your work today? Monday is generally my wash day. I change the bed, gather up all the towels and dirty laundry and clean the bathrooms. I try to sanctify my Monday work by praying for those who sleep in the beds and wear the clothing I'm washing. Today, the laundry includes items from our weekend camping trip celebrating the 40th anniversary of Campfire Squares, our square dance camping club. We took two little granddaughters, children of our youngest, and our two oldest children (who learned to dance in the early days of the group) along with their families attended as well. So my thoughts will include thanksgiving for the good weather we had and all the joys of the weekend with the children dancing the Virginia Reel, jumping on the campground's air pillow, playing croquet, winning prizes at the White Elephant Bingo and renewing old friendships while cooking hotdogs around the campfire.  Work and play are both part of family life.

Jumping for the joy of it!
What a great model St. Joseph is for us. I can imagine him building items for his neighbors, but also making simple toys for the child Jesus and teaching him the craft of carpentry. Jesus no doubt played at being a carpenter, just like little children play by pretending to do the work of their parents. My little grandchildren often ask for dust rags and brooms so they can join in the "work" that looks like "fun" to them. Man was always meant to work even before the fall. Our work in the Garden would have been easier instead of accomplished by the "sweat of the brow," but Adam and Eve would have tended the garden, planting and harvesting and enjoying the fruits of their work.

St. Joseph, intercede for us as we work today and help us to recognize the value and blessing of good, honest work that contributes to our family life, our Church community, and the common good.


1 comment:

Chriss Rainey said...

I have always felt it was important to respect work at any level of society and more importantly to accept whatever station in life you are given. To humble yourself and find joy in whatever you do, whether it is the laundry or driving the bus, is what God asks of us. Were we to not do this, we would fall into the hands of the devil who promotes rebellion--envy, jealousy, covetousness, and resentment. St. Joseph teaches us all that work is not the end itself, but our duty along the right path to live out God's will for each of us. None of us, can expect to get to heaven through the chairs we build or the tidy house we keep---goodness knows, Martha tried, or the societal success we may achieve as accountants or doctors. Work is not an end but a test. Will you accept it and offer it up, or will you look at it as the reason to resent what freedom and assets other have that you do not?

When we work we can expect to be compensated and through that compensation we free ourselves from the dictates of others. Work then becomes a tool that helps us obtain the independence we need to choose God and a life of virtue. The bored and the unemployed are often angry bitter people whereas those with something to do, are able to experience dignity and find happiness.