Thursday, May 1, 2008



“Holy Family” by Raffaello Sanzio, 1506

Additional information about St. Joseph the Worker [1]
Readings for the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker

Readings and Commentary: [2]

Reading 1

Genesis 1:26-2:3

God said:
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air, and the cattle,
and over all the wild animals
and all the creatures that crawl on the ground."
God created man in his image;
in the divine image he created him;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, saying:
"Be fertile and multiply;
fill the earth and subdue it.
Have dominion over the fish of the sea,
the birds of the air,
and all the living things that move on the earth."
God also said:
"See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth
and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it
to be your food; and to all the animals of the land,
all the birds of the air,
and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground,
I give all the green plants for food."
And so it happened.
God looked at everything he had made,
and he found it very good. Evening came,
and morning followed—the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.
Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing,
God rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,
because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.


Commentary on Gen 1:26-2:3

This selection from Genesis tells the story of the creation of man and woman. Man’s resemblance to God lies primarily in the gift God gives mankind, the gift of “dominion” over all His creation. This final creation is the climax of his creative activity and following it, God establishes the day of rest, the Lord’s Day.

CCC: Gn 1:26-29 2402; Gn 1:26-28 307; Gn 1:26-27 1602; Gn 1:26 36, 225, 299, 343, 2501, 2809; Gn 1:27 355, 383, 1604, 2331; Gn 1:28-31 2415; Gn 1:28 372, 373, 1604, 1607, 1652, 2331, 2427; Gn 1:31 299, 1604; Gn 2:1-3 345; Gn 2:2 314, 2184

Colossians 3:14-15, 17, 23-24

Brothers and sisters:
Over all these things put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one Body.
And be thankful.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Whatever you do, do from the heart,
as for the Lord and not for men,
knowing that you will receive from the Lord
the due payment of the inheritance;
be slaves of the Lord Christ.

Commentary on Col 3:14-15, 17, 23-24

St. Paul speaks to the Colossians about the way they are to live as a community, dedicated to Christian principles and compassionate to all. The passage we are given picks up this theme at the climax as he tells the faithful, above all other acts of charity and kindness to “…put on love”, the ultimate expression of the soul.

Omitted from this reading are the practical examples of the instructions St. Paul gives. We are left with the summary of actions – act always in the name of Jesus and be at peace, knowing the reward has already been promised and paid for with the Lord’s sacrifice.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 90:2, 3-4, 12-13, 14 And 16

R. (see 17b) Lord, give success to the work of our hands.
R. Alleluia.
Before the mountains were begotten
and the earth and the world were brought forth,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
R. Lord, give success to the work of our hands.
R Alleluia.
You turn men back to dust,
saying, "Return, O children of men."
For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday,
now that it is past, or as a watch of the night.
R. Lord, give success to the work of our hands.
R. Alleluia.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. Lord, give success to the work of our hands.
R. Alleluia.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
Let your work be seen by your servants
and your glory by their children.
R. Lord, give success to the work of our hands.
R. Alleluia.


Commentary on Ps 90:2, 3-4, 12-13, 14 And 16

The psalm in its entirety is a communal lament. The strophes in this selection reflect on the mortality of humanity and the brevity of human life. (It is also an example of the human understanding that God’s immortal view of time is not like ours.) The recollection of God’s creative impulse recalls the Genesis event while final strophe brings us back rejoicing for God’s great mercy.


Matthew 13:54-58

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
"Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter's son? Is not his mother named Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?"
And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them,
"A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and in his own house."
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.

Commentary on Mt 13:54-58

This story from Matthew’s Gospel focuses on the people most familiar with Jesus the boy growing up among them. They are seeking the “Royal Messiah”, one coming with great power and majesty and are disappointed because of the Lord’s familiar and humble beginnings. Matthew’s story tells us that because of their lack of faith, the Lord did not perform any signs in their midst, ending the passage with the often quoted “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house." (See also John 1:11, those who were overly familiar with Jesus could not place their faith in him.)

CCC: Mt 13:55 495, 500

We see in St. Joseph the one who stand for faith. St. Francis of Assisi is said to have coined the saying “Preach the Gospel always and use words when you have to.” St. Joseph was certainly his inspiration for this statement. No word spoken by him is quoted in Holy Scripture yet his example of faith and complete acceptance of God’s call is one that inspires us.

Scripture does not say much about the foster father of Jesus. Today we are presented with reminders that God created mankind and that in doing so he gave to us the gift of free will, to choose how we should use the dominion over all his creation. Of all the generations and all the individuals that have gone before us none, but St. Joseph, have had to make the kind of choice he made. He could have rejected his bride, who could have blamed him? She would have been put to death, considered by the Jewish community to be adulterous. But he listened and believed the word God sent through the angels and the Savior of the World was given to us.

St. Joseph embodies the spirit of all those who toil in silence, uncomplaining and faithful to what God calls them to be. In his memorial today, we remember all those who have gone before us in faith, silently doing God’s work – for His greater glory.

We leave this reflection with questions poised by Pope John Paul the Great as he meditated upon the one we memorialize this day –

“We see how the word of the Living God penetrates deeply into the soul of that man, that just man. And we, do we know how to listen to the word of God? Do we know how to absorb it into the depths of our human personalities? Do we open our conscience in the presence of this word?”


[1] The picture used is “Holy Family” by Raffaello Sanzio, 1506
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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