Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter (St. Joseph the worker, memorial)
Being a tentmaker both benefits Paul and restricts him. It gives him an income which not only makes him monetarily independent but also removes doubts regarding the motive of his preaching. More importantly, working in a tent-making shop – like he does with Aquila in the reading – allows him to meet people. We can imagine Paul steering any conversation with customers to his favorite topic, the Lord Jesus. The downside of being a laborer is that the upper crust may frown on him and his ideas. “So what?” we might ask. The problem is that Paul needs a rich patron to provide ample quarters for the Sunday gathering of all the people he is converting. Fortunately, Paul always seems to make the right connection.
Work continues today as a benefit and a burden. It enables people to develop their capabilities and to socialize with others. Of course, it provides daily needs for self and family. Often overlooked is how work allows people to contribute to God’s creation. Martin Luther King, Jr., once exhorted the street cleaners of Memphis to sweep the streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; that is, with care and perfection.
But work is not always experienced as a good. One’s job may be tedious or one’s boss may be overbearing. People in these situations are often poorly compensated and otherwise exploited. We Christians should support them, especially in spiritual ways. We should suggest to workers that they express their grievances to the proper authorities and possibly to unionize. We too might speak up for the workers, at least to God. Finally, we should encourage disgruntled workers to pray and to practice prudence. Prayer opens us to God’s will; prudence insures that we follow it.