The Ordinary Path to the Extraordinary

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Optional Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker

Readings for Today

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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?” Matthew 13:54–55

On December 8, 2020, Pope Francis announced the beginning of the universal celebration of the “Year of Saint Joseph,” which will conclude on December 8, 2021. He introduced this year with an Apostolic Letter entitled “With a Father’s Heart.” In the introduction to that letter, the Holy Father said, “Each of us can discover in Joseph—the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence—an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.”

The Gospel above, taken from the readings for this memorial, point to the fact that Jesus was “the carpenter’s son.” Joseph was a worker. He worked with his hands as a carpenter so as to provide for the daily needs of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Son of God. He provided them with a home, with food, and with the other daily necessities of life. Joseph also protected them both by following the various messages of the angel of God who spoke to him in his dreams. Joseph fulfilled his duties in life in a quiet and hidden way, serving in his role as father, spouse and worker.

Though Joseph is universally recognized and honored today within our Church and even as a prominent historical world figure, during his lifetime he would have been a man who was largely unnoticed. He would have been seen as an ordinary man doing his ordinary duty. But in many ways, that is what makes Saint Joseph an ideal man to imitate and a source of inspiration. Very few people are called to serve others in the spotlight. Very few people are publicly praised for their day-to-day duties. Parents, especially, are often greatly unappreciated. For that reason, the life of Saint Joseph, this humble and hidden life lived out in Nazareth, provides most people with inspiration for their own daily lives.

If your life is somewhat monotonous, hidden, unappreciated by the masses, tedious, and even boring at times, then look to Saint Joseph for inspiration. Today’s memorial especially honors Joseph as a man who worked. And his work was quite ordinary. But holiness is especially found in the ordinary parts of our daily lives. Choosing to serve, day in and day out, with little or no earthly accolades, is a service of love, an imitation of the life of Saint Joseph, and a source of your own holiness in life. Do not underestimate the importance of serving in these and other ordinary and hidden ways.

Reflect, today, upon the ordinary and “unremarkable” daily life of Saint Joseph. If you find that your life is similar to what he would have experienced as a worker, a spouse and a father, then rejoice in that fact. Rejoice in the fact that you are also called to a life of extraordinary holiness through the ordinary duties of daily life. Do them well. Do them with love. And do them in inspiration of Saint Joseph and his spouse, the Blessed Virgin Mary who would have shared in this ordinary day-to-day life. Know that what you do each and every day, when it is done out of love and service of others, is the surest path to holiness of life for you.

My Jesus, Son of the carpenter, I thank You for the gift and inspiration of Your earthly father, Saint Joseph. I thank You for his ordinary life lived with great love and responsibility. Help me to imitate his life by fulfilling my daily duties of work and service well. May I recognize in the life of Saint Joseph, an ideal model for my own holiness of life. Saint Joseph the Worker, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.

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