May 1, international workers’ day, is celebrated in the Catholic Church as the Feast of St Joseph the Worker. For the occasion, Catholic Labor Network Spiritual Moderator Fr. Sinclair Oubre offers the following reflection:
St. Joseph: A Servant Worker
As a young seminarian, I came across the writings of Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. I don’t remember which books I was reading, but I was very impressed by his idea of our work being a participation in God’s ongoing creation.
My first maritime job was in the summer of 1978. I was in the lazaret prepping the steel for priming and painting.
The space was hot and filled with paint fumes, but what kept chanting in my head, no matter how mundane and unseen this job was, “You are participating in God’s on going creation, and how you do your job is joined together with God’s ongoing creation.”
As I worked, I was a servant to the ship. Though insignificant, my work made the vessel better, which made life onboard better, which made the operations better, which made the company better, which made the industry better, which made transportation better, which eventually made God’s creation better.
St. Joseph’s work was in service of Jesus Christ’s salvation.
St. Joseph placed himself as the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In spite of the social scandal of her pregnancy, he labored to support her.
When it was necessary to flee Bethlehem for Egypt, he did not hesitate, but took on the work of preparation, planning, and travel. When the Holy Family arrived in Egypt, he took up his tools again, and worked in service of his family’s well-being. After a certain amount of time, it was time to move the family back to Nazareth, where he took up his tools again in service of sustaining the family.
I find that our contemporary world places a lot of emphasis on each person’s work being at the service of the person’s career. In the end, the individual may advance his or her career, but that person has done nothing to cooperate with God’s ongoing creation.
On this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, may he intercede for us. May all our work be at the service of God’s ongoing creation, and be in harmony with God’s ongoing redemption.