Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker
(Acts 6:8-15; John 6:22-29)
The man said that he loved his work. He even claimed that he would do it even if he didn’t get paid. But is it really work if one does not receive compensation? Or is not the satisfaction of earning a livelihood for oneself and one’s family a necessary part of work?
There is a painting by Georges de La Tour of St. Joseph working. He is bent over and painstakingly drilling a hole in wood. Next to him stands the boy Jesus holding a candle so that his foster father might complete his task. The painting first reminds us of Joseph’s role as the provider of Jesus and Mary. It also indicates how Jesus enlightens the effort. He teaches us that work brings the human person closer to God as it benefits others.
Today’s gospel likewise gives this lesson. Jesus tells the people that they need spiritual more than physical sustenance. He wants them to see that no matter how much they enjoyed the bread that he provided, his example of service is more valuable. He will die on the cross so that they might live for one another and not exclusively for themselves.