Today’s Thoughts: It is May 1st the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Before I reflect a little on today readings let me take a few moments to consider our feast today. This feast in honor of St. Joseph always takes me back to my childhood. Our parish in Port Vue, PA, was named St. Joseph. It honored St. Joseph as the Worker. Out in front of the school building (our church we in the basement of the school) was a statue of St. Joseph with the tools of the trade in his hands, carpenter’s tools, the tools of a man who worked with his hands.
It was a wonderful image for the parish as most of the people in the parish worked for the steel industry. They worked in the many steel mills that ran along the rivers of Western Pennsylvania. It was a blue-collar town, a town of families, a town of workers. The ethic of family life and working hard was a daily part of my world growing up. This is not to say that I lived in “Camelot,” that everything was perfect and life for everyone was wonderful. There were struggle, problems, heartaches and sadness along with the joys, hopes and the good times of life. But St. Joseph the Worker as the patron of the parish spoke to a simple vision of life that the people of Port Vue and many other towns tried to live out.
I returned to my hometown many years later. The church building was still there and so was the statue of St. Joseph. However, like in many places it was no longer St. Joseph’s Parish; it had been merged with another parish in the area and was now called St. Mark’s. The statue was in disrepair do to years of neglect, much like my hometown which was now struggling because the steel industry was long gone. It was still a blue-collar town; it was still a town of families but also a town struggling to find hope and a vision for the future. Perhaps more than ever my home town needed St. Joseph’s spirit.
The feast we celebrate today honors the spirit of St. Joseph, a simple man who in a quiet, yet strong way, responded to God’s invitation. His skills as a worker and a father are not always honored or valued. Yet he lived on, he said “yes” to God’s invitation. He lived his life with honor, hard work and love for those around him. He was a blue-collar worker, a family man, an ordinary person who let God do extraordinary things with his life.
As a Church, we sometimes let his image fall into disrepair. He becomes an afterthought in a world of glitz and glamor saints. Yet, St. Joseph will always remind us that everyone is created in the image and likeness of God which makes each of us special and important to the work of God in the world!
One of my grandfathers and my uncle were gifted with the name Joseph and they were simple hard working men too and on this feast of St. Joseph I remember them and honor them in a special way.
Our readings today continue our Easter focus and are preludes to tomorrow stories, the martyrdom of Stephen and Jesus’ discourse on the “Bread of Life.” In some ways we can say that today’s readings are about seeing and hearing and we learn that some people only see and hear what they want to see and hear. When we live life this way we open ourselves to the possibility of missing the gift, the presence of God in our life.
The religious leaders surrounding Stephen today only see and hear what they want to see and hear. They miss the very gift from God that Stephen brings to them, the very gift of God that Stephen is. They miss a chance to grow, to see and hear thing differently. They have already decided who and what Stephen is thus God has no chance.
The people following after Jesus in today’s Gospel are caught up in the miracles that Jesus has performed. They are not listening to his words, they are not open to the presence of God, they want more miraculous things. Jesus reminds them that in order for good things to happen they have to be open to the gift and presence of God in their lives. That they have to believe not in what they see and hear but in the presence of Jesus in their lives!
Often we only see and hear what we want. God can be speaking to us, calling us down a new path but we miss it. Today let us open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to the many different ways that God can be present in our lives especially those ways beyond what we want to see and hear!
Have a great Monday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...