This past year has brought a lot of attention to a most beloved and humble saint.
In the midst of a confusing pandemic, declining affiliation with the faith, and overall detriment of the family unit, what better saint could we have called upon than the Protector of the Holy Church, Pillar of Families, and Terror of Demons? In December of 2020, Pope Francis declared the Year of St. Joseph – a time when the faithful were to call upon the intercession of this most powerful saint and model of what it means to be a true follower and servant of Christ and His Church.
On May 1, we celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. This celebration, originally created by Pope Pius XII to counteract the Communist May Day celebration, helps us to more greatly understand the beauty of what it means to be workers in the vision of the Lord. When you open the Bible to Genesis, the first two chapters recount the story of Creation, and how all of the works of God were good. Out of His great love, He even created mankind and allowed him a spouse, inviting them to also take part in His great Creation with the command to “be fertile and multiply” and giving them “dominion over…all the living things that crawl on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
What a most beautiful gift, to be bestowed with the ability and responsibility to be creators just like our Lord, to be able to till the soil and create new life, and to also beget and raise new lives in this world. Seeing God in the face of another is easier when we realize we are literally creations in the very image of He who created us. When it comes to working – whether at home, outside, or in the office – it makes it that much more meaningful to realize that we are acting in tandem with the Lord and that it brings us great joy and fulfillment to be able to do so.
When we turn to the patron of May 1, St. Joseph, we see a man who exemplified these inherent traits of mankind. Like the first beings of this world, Joseph was closely connected to the Lord, hearing His calls and obeying them for the sake of his family. With his spouse, Mary, he raised the Christ child, providing a model of holiness for the young Jesus who would one day die on the cross. As the man of the house, Joseph also worked as a carpenter, literally creating furniture for the benefit of others and for his family, as the money earned would go towards their needs. In this we see emulated the great dignity in the ability to not only create, but to foster the growth and wellbeing of those entrusted to him.
As we ponder St. Joseph and his intercession over this day, let us also remember that we were created to work, create, and foster life. We don’t work for the benefit of work itself, but for the innate ability to more closely resemble the God who created us, who loves us, and who desires that we may grow to be more like Him as we live out our days in this world.