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May Day & St. Joseph!

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May 1st is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, established by the Catholic Church in 1955. 

In 1889, May 1st was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in Chicago and the struggle for the 8-hour working day. In Europe and in other countries May 1st is known as Labor Day and is a holiday.

Of all the great and powerful men in the world, why was Joseph – a simple and humble carpenter – especially chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus? He was not a witty speaker, an erudite teacher, a powerful king or a wise philosopher. This indeed, is a mystery in itself.

God chose Joseph because he was a good carpenter. And God wanted his son to be known as the son of a carpenter of Nazareth. For truly, Jesus himself is ‘Carpenter of the World’ par excellence!

Jesus chose to be a carpenter. This really comes as a big surprise because all throughout his public ministry, his associates were mostly fishermen, and not one was a carpenter. He stayed in Capernaum, a town by the sea. Most of his preaching and miracles were done in the areas surrounding the Sea of Galilee. In his teachings, he used parables from fishing and farming, but not from carpentry.

Jesus chose to be known as a carpenter or an artisan because it is the profession that expresses his mission more vividly than that of a fisherman or farmer. A fisherman patiently waits for the fish to come near the boat, and the farmer waits for the plant to grow and bear fruit. But the carpenter does not wait for the trees and lumber to come to him. He goes where the trees and lumber are, and uses his hands and tools to transform them into beautiful pieces of furniture.

Like the carpenter, Jesus does not wait for the people to come to him. He goes where they are. The Gospels sum up his daily activity during his public ministry: He “went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness” (Mt.9:35).

A fisherman does not change the fish. A farmer does not transform the plant. They cannot do anything with the fish and the plant. But the carpenter turns rough lumber into a beautiful work of art and skill. His aim is to build and not to destroy. If anything is broken, he fixes it and brings it back to its original strength and beauty.

Similarly, Jesus transforms everything. He makes the lame walk, the blind see, the leper cleansed, the dead rise to life. He transforms a sinner into a saint. For indeed, such has always been his mission: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). In short, the training of Jesus for his mission began in the humble shop of St. Joseph the Worker.

Special thanks to Fr. Mike Lagrimas for these thoughts. Thanks to Pixaby for the picture.

What have YOU fixed and brought back to its original strength and beauty?


Please start off the month of May by introducing someone new to TREATSFORTHESOUL.ORG.  And be sure to listen to my DAILY PODCAST by clicking the little White Triangle.

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