This is Pope Francis’ address to the general audience on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the 1st of May, we commemorate St. Joseph the Worker and begin the month traditionally committed to the Virgin Mary. Throughout this encounter, I would hence such as to reflect on these 2 vital figures in the life of Jesus, of the Church and in our lives, with two short thoughts: the first relating to work, the second on the contemplation of Jesus.
1. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, one of the times when Jesus returns to his native region, to Nazareth, and speaks in the synagogue, the Gospel underlines his fellow villagers’ astonishment at his wisdom, and the question they ask one another: is not this the Carpenter’s son?” (13:55). Jesus takes part in our history, he comes into our midst, being born of Mary by the work of God, but with the presence of St. Joseph, the legal father who defends him and even teaches him his trade. Jesus was born and resided in a family, in the Holy Family, picking up from St. Joseph the carpenter’s trade, in the workshop of Nazareth, sharing with him his dedication, hard work and fulfillment, in addition to each day’s troubles.
This calls to mind for us the dignity and relevance of work. The Book of Genesis informs us that God developed man and woman by handing over to them the task of populating the Earth and subjugating it, which does not suggest to exploit it, but to grow and guard it, to take care of it with their own labor (cf. Gen 1:28; 2:15). The work is part of the strategy of God’s love; we are called to plant and safeguard all the products of production and in this means we take part in the work of creation! The work is essential to the dignity of an individual. Work, to use an image, “anoints” us with dignity, it fills us with dignity; it makes us similar to God, who has worked and works still, He is always acting (cf. Jn 5:17); it gives the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the development of one’s nation. And here I am thinking of the problems which, in various countries, today’s world of work and enterprise are facing; I consider the number of people, and not just young people, are jobless, commonly because of an economic conception of society, which seeks selfish gain, outside of the specifications of social justice.
I would like to welcome everybody to solidarity, and desire to encourage those in charge of public affairs to strive to provide brand-new catalyst to work; this suggests taking care of the dignity of the person; however mainly I would say not to lose hope. St. Joseph likewise had difficult moments, but never lost confidence and was able to conquer them, in the certainty that God does not deserts us. And then I would like to address particularly the teenagers and you young people: get associated with your daily duty, in study, in work, in friendships, in helping others; your future depends likewise on your knowledge in living these priceless years of life. Don’t be afraid of effort, of sacrifice and don’t look to the future with concern; keep hope alive: there’s constantly a light on the horizon.
I include a word about another particular work scenario that bothers me: I am referring to what could be specified as “slave labor”, work that enslaves. How many people, worldwide, are victims of this kind of slavery, where the person goes to the service of work, when it has to be work that offers a service to individuals so that they could have dignity. I would ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of great will to make a definitive choice against the trafficking of individuals, within which falls the category of “servant labor”.
2. The second thought: in the silence of his everyday activity, St. Joseph shared with Mary a solitary, typical center of attention: Jesus. They guard and accompany, with commitment and tenderness, the development of the Son of God made man for us, reflecting on everything that happens. In the Gospels, Luke mentions twice the mindset of Mary, which is also that of St. Joseph: “She treasured all these things, and considered them in her heart” (2:19.51).
To listen to the Lord, we have to discover, to ponder His consistent presence in our lives; we have to stop and talk to Him, give Him space in our lives through prayer. Every one of us, even you adolescent boys and girls, and young people, so numerous right here this early morning, should ask yourselves: what amount of space do I offer the Lord? Do I stop to discussion with Him? Ever since we were children, our parents have actually accustomed us to begin and end the day with a prayer, to teach us to feel that the friendship and the love of God accompany us. Let us remember the Lord more often in our days!
And in this month of May, I would like to remember the relevance and the appeal of the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Reciting the Hail Mary, we are led to contemplate the secrets of Jesus, to mirror, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and for St. Joseph, He might be the center of our thoughts, our attention and our actions. It would be good if, particularly in this month of May, you would pray together as a family, with your friends, in the parish, the Holy Rosary or some prayer to Jesus and the Virgin Mary! Praying together is a precious moment for making family life and friendship more stable! Let us learn to pray more in the family and as a family!
Dear sisters and brothers, let us ask St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary to instruct us to be faithful to our everyday commitments, to live our faith in daily actions and to give even more space to the Lord in our lives, to stop to contemplate his face.
+His Holiness Pope Francis May 1, 2013
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