Culture

Year of St. Joseph: good worker

For St. Joseph, work was fundamental in his life. He sanctified it, sanctified others through it, and it was a magnificent means of union with God.

Alejandro Vázquez-Dodero-February 18, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
working san jose

If, as we said in previous fascicles on the life of St. Joseph, he was a good husband and a good father, we can say that he was also a good worker. We continue to dedicate this space to him in this year called for by Pope Francis with the apostolic letter Patris Corde until December 8. 

He was a good worker, especially because, as a citizen among his own, whom God had chosen to entrust Mary and the Child to him, he would try to support himself financially and, since the Holy Family had been entrusted to him, he would also try to support her. 

We can think, why not, that both Our Lady and Our Lord would help Joseph in his professional work, as a "family business". But our purpose on this occasion is to focus on the holy Patriarch as a worker, and not so much on the contribution of his wife and son.

Sanctified the work

The holy patriarch, from his workshop, would work honestly and without forgetting the need to provide for his family. He would emphasize the dignity of what he did, and he would do it with the utmost perfection, because he wanted to give glory to God. 

As soon as he received an order from his customers - a new piece of furniture, a repair, a repair... - he would take great care to treat them exquisitely. He would take good note of what he would have to do, asking what he needed to do in order to complete the order perfectly. He would commit himself to deliver the work on a certain date, the one agreed upon. Once finished, he would deliver it with the joy of someone who has worked well, with a desire to serve and to please his clients.

That job well done, and therefore fairly remunerated, would represent for him -and for his family and environment- a real satisfaction. Well done because he would know how to start it well and finish it with equal excellence: the first and last stones were his thing.

On the other hand, St. Joseph reconciled his condition as a worker with that of husband and father. We cannot imagine that, because of his professional dedication, he would neglect the Virgin and the Child, since caring for them was the main mission of his life.

All these components would make St. Joseph's work, in itself, an object of sanctification. The work itself would be something holy. It would not be, thus, a penalty, curse or punishment, as perhaps many understand it, but something honorable and worthy of sanctification.

Sanctified through work

On the other hand, the attitude described above would bring him closer to God - to God's love - through his professional work. That is to say, that this work, in short, would be prayer, and a certain way of encountering God, of dealing with Him.

It is not that during his working day he dedicated himself to reciting prayers, but rather that his work itself, as we said, was his prayer. In other words, he prayed, without further complexity, working "in the presence" of God. Therefore, sharing with Him what he was doing; and not only sharing it, but offering it to Him.

In short, his life, through his condition as a worker, took on a meaning: the meaning of behaving as a child of God also during the development of his profession. 

Ultimately, he would consider the work he had in hand as something willed by God for him, an integral part, therefore, of his vocation or mission on earth.

In this regard, St. Josemaría Escrivá, in his homily, said In the workshop of Joséreminds us that the human vocation, and therefore professional work, is part, and an important part, of the divine vocation: "This is the reason why you have to sanctify yourselves, contributing at the same time to the sanctification of others, of your equals, precisely by sanctifying your work and your environment: this is the profession or trade that carries your days (...)".

Sanctified the neighbor on the occasion of work

Work, in the eyes of Faith, represents participating in God's redemptive work, collaborating in the coming of the Kingdom, placing the qualities of the worker at the service of others for God.

St. Joseph would be fully aware of this, and the dignity of having a remunerated occupation for himself and his family would be the driving force of his professional development. But it would not stop there, but would transcend to his surroundings, with that clear conscience, as we said, of collaborating through his profession to the redemptive work initiated by his son and of which he already felt in some way "co-responsible". 

He would give thanks to God for having this means to bring him closer to those he dealt with in the course of his profession. Because he would see in his work an opportunity to give himself to others, to lead them to divine love, teaching them that work not only provides a livelihood, but also represents a unique opportunity to meet God, who pours his graces into the soul on the occasion of professional work.

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