Scripture: Lectionary 559. St. Joseph’s Feast as Worker. Genesis 1:26-2:3; or Colossians 3:14-15.17.23-24. Psalm 90:2,3-4,12-13,14,16. Matthew 13: 54-58:
On the two feasts of St. Joseph I always think of St.Bernardine of Siena who wrote some of the best spiritual insights about St. Joseph. I went back and forth with the readings from March 19th and those of May 1in the Office of the Readings and the Liturgy of the hours to set the framework for my prayers and meditation on this excellent Saint who is rarely mentioned in the New Testament. Actually, only Matthew gives us the key to identify the role of Joseph in salvation history.The other evangelists just identify him by name and Luke shows his relationship to Mary in the Annunciation Narrative.
St. Bernardine says in his first paragraph about Joseph: “There is a general rule concerning all special graces granted to any human being. Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand. This general rule is especially verified in the case of St. Joseph, the foster-father of our Lord and the husband of the Queen of our world, enthroned above the angels.”
All of the above listed readings from the Book of Genesis, Colossians, the Psalm 90, and Matthew 13: 54-58 gives us all that we can know about Joseph in the realm of our liturgical celebration. These readings help us to give a context to the Saint whom we are celebrating; they are well chosen and set us within the spirit of Joseph the wholesome worker and protector of the Holy Family. There are other roles that are included in his concern for saftety for the family, for the environment, for the protection of the Church and for the grace of a happy death.
Our prayer, coupled with faith-filled reflection on these texts give us a model of living life that can motivate us to be holy and just in our own world of work, recreation, family, and church. I could also add a piece dedicated to Joseph sometime in the fifth or sixth century called the History of Joseph the Carpenter. This is a devotional and touching story about the death of Joseph, the husband of Mary. It shows us the perplexity and anxiety of a holy person approaching death and the fears that accompany one at the hour of death. This fear and anxiety extends to Mary and to Joseph who were human just as we are. Jesus is the primary narrator in this story; the apostles also do some narrating.
Speaking of the value of work and Joseph’s witness to it as a “tekton” (carpenter, woodworker, builder) we are led by the Office of Readings to the Pastoral Constitution on the Church (Gaudium et Spes, 33-34) which extols the value of our own work and the necessity for all to have work. Not only does Joseph do such work, but Mark calls Jesus a “tekton” (a worker in wood, a builder, a carpenter) :“Is this not the the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mark 6:3).
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Alleluia. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.