Tuesday, May 1, 2102

Memorial of Saint Joseph, the worker (Genesis 1:26-2:3; Matthew 13:54-58) When Blessed John Paul II published his encyclical on human work in 1981, one moralist criticized the document as too optimistic. The critic indicated that calling humans God’s “co-creators,” as the pope did, borders on pretentiousness. However, while it is true that God transcends anything that a human might conceive let alone do, the reading from Genesis today does declare the human person as formed in the divine image. Right after the passage speaks of humans as like God, it begins a remarkable series of blessings. God grants them dominion over other inhabitants of land, sea, and sky. They are to use nature to serve their needs. Such a task requires know-how and energy – the qualities of workers. Today, May 1, in most places is their day. We thank God for the workers of the world. Their ingenuity and effort are making life increasingly less burdensome while providing more bountiful opportunities to develop human potential. St. Joseph capably represents workers. Matthew’s gospel especially portrays him as a just man who loves his family. A carpenter by profession, he probably fabricated houses and furniture for the benefit of ordinary people. He serves all of us as a model as well as an intercessor. He knows our tiredness after working a full day. He also understands our aspirations of a better life for ourselves and our families.