Friday, May 01, 2009

Saint Joseph the Worker

The Church has dedicated the month of May to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. May 1st is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, institiued by Pope Pius XII in 1955. It coincides with May Day celebrations held in may parts of the world.

It is fitting that the month of May, dedicated to Mary, start with a feast in honor of Saint Joseph, her husband and the foster-father of Jesus. Together Joseph and Mary raised Jesus. It has been said that Joseph had to be a saint to live with the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnation!

We know little of Joseph. He is mentioned in the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke. God speaks to him through dreams, just like the patriarch Joseph in the Old Testament. In his desire to protect Mary from the dishonor of a public divorce, he wants to do it quietly--until Gabriel tells him in a dream that, as Bruce Cockburn puts it, "God did this and you're part of his scheme." For this Joseph is called a righteous man.

We know Joseph was a carpenter, a craftsman; a trade he taught to Jesus. He did this work to provide for his family, so we honor him on this day as St. Joseph the Worker to remind people of the dignity of work and it's value to living out the universal call to holiness.

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