1 May 2012
May 1 is International Labor Day, and the Church celebrates on this date the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, instituted in 1955 by Pope Pierce XII to give Christian faith and meaning to this important human and social holiday.
St. Joseph, the just man chosen by God to be the holy spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Guardian of the Redeemer, incarnates for the Christian world the icon and the model of all those who devote themselves in an exemplary manner to their profession, who carefully fulfill their responsibilities and obligations, living the life of a simple, humble, honest, somber and silent worker. In this fecund silence, God spoke and acted, and the house of Nazareth became a true "school of the gospel", as Pope Paul VI said during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1964. In this family – hidden in the stillness of the Galilee and founded on the wisdom and actions of Joseph, loving spouse, patient educator of the Son of God, and worker faithful to his daily obligations, Joseph who, through assiduous listening to the Word of the Lord and doing his will, dignified manual labor, giving it the highest human and spiritual significance – Jesus grew "in wisdom, age and grace before God and men". Cared for and protected by the loving paternal figure of Joseph, immersed in his world of faith and humble, steady industry, Jesus, too, dedicated himself for many years to manual labor, fully receiving in himself this important human dimension, so much so that he came to be known as the son of the carpenter, also formed thanks to his sensitivity to the daily efforts and difficulties of mankind.
Today the figure of Saint Joseph, patron of all workers, is alive and real, and even in times of crisis and uncertainty in the economic and working world, he still offers a concrete, effective message, continuing to turn everyone toward the meaning and value of the work of his hands and talents. Joseph teaches every Christian to join daily professional engagements to the values of faith, to carry out transparently and responsibly the tasks that he has been assigned, to see the presence of God in the simplicity of the acts of every day, to discern God’s will in the choices he makes for personal, social, and civil growth. Joseph shows every working person that the path of sobriety, equality and solidarity represents the better way to construct a more just society, attentive to the needs of everyone; that humility and dedication are essential components of every profession; that great material, cultural and spiritual works can mature in recollection and science; that effort and sacrifice never overcome faith and determination. Precious teachings that touch the deepest identity of every person and every Christian because work can become for each of us the privileged opportunity to exemplify and testify to the highest values.
Text by Caterina Foppa Pedretti