May 1, 2020 – Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker
Click here for the readings (http://cms.usccb.org/bible/readings/0501-memorial-joseph-worker.cfm)
When the creation finished, we were told in the Book of Genesis, “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.”
What God has made reflect who God is. It means that God’s goodness and love overflows towards all creation precisely because God who is so good made everything on earth with love. Yet, God did not stop working and creating after the creation. God continues to be at work in each of us and in everything. And it is God’s desire that we grow more and be transformed according to His Divine plan.
This is an assurance then, that God’s work in us and in everything means God’s presence. In God’s presence, we shall find that even a dreadful disease such as COVID-19 has no match with a working God who desires for a world that experiences peace and joy.
This tells us now of the beauty and the value of work. When we work, we give ourselves into what we are working. Hence, we do not merely extend ourselves to what we are working but it is ourselves in that very work. A masterpiece or any work of art, for example, reveals the personality of the artist, or the person of the artist himself/herself. That is why, God found everything very good because God is in each of us, and in everything.
Today, we also celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and at the same time celebrating Labor day. This feast of St. Joseph who is the patron of workers and laborers reminds us of the dignity of labor or work and on how our work can serve God and be in service of others.
As a carpenter or craftsman, St. Joseph silently dedicated his every work to God. Most likely, as we do not have a direct account from the Bible, this was how Joseph also brought up the young Jesus.
Indeed, Jesus was made aware of the value and dignity of work through his human experiences of labor with Joseph. Jesus learned to appreciate work and to realize how work affirms and develops a human person into what God desires us to be.
This Labor day reminds us too to give respect and honor to every workmanship. May this celebration also remind us of the struggles of those who labored and worked hard to earn their living, which include farmers, carpenters, constructions workers, janitors, garbage collectors, drivers, nannies, domestic helpers, vendors, police, office workers, teachers, nurses, doctors and other professionals and to be in solidarity with them.
These days of Enhanced Community Quarantine as a protective measure against the COVID-19 Pandemic, work in most sectors of our community has been suspended. Those who earn daily and do not have the security of tenure and other benefits have been affected the most. They have to rely now on the help from the government and from charitable institutions.
Furthermore, those in the medical field have more weight on their shoulders these days as an unfamiliar virus is infecting many. Many of them were infected too and unfortunately many died of the same infection.
These days also, we rely on the knowledge and expertise of those in the medical science that through these scientists a vaccine will be developed to fight the virus and save us from this disease. And we pray, that it is progressing.
What we realize then, is how a particular work plays an important dynamism in the life of our community. Hopefully, we may also value our own work, whatever that may be and no matter how limited it has become in these days of Community Quarantine. May our work, our profession or ministry will become our own participation in God’s continuing work in us.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “It is the quality of our work that will please God, and not quantity.” Thus, God calls us too that like Him, we may give ourselves to what we are working because the quality of our work also reflects who we are. So, give the best in you. When you fail, make it a learning experience. And when you succeed, be proud of it and thank the Lord for the gift of work and for the gift of your person, who is fearfully and wonderfully made by God.
May our work then, become an act of loving service to others and an act that multiplies goodness and kindness springing forth from our very person.
With this, let us take confidence in God who is at work, who shall bring fulfillment to our heart’s desires. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR