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May 3rd, 2015 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 3rd, 2015 - Fifth Sunday of Easter

"Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth." - 1 John 3:18

This Friday, May 1st is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. It is one of two days in the liturgical year that the Church celebrates the life of Mary's husband and Jesus' earthly father. Pope Pius XII instituted the memorial in 1955 as a way to promote the Christian notion of the dignity of work, and to counter the international communist/socialist celebrations that were traditionally held on that day.

The Gospels tell us that Mary's husband was a tekton, meaning carpenter or craftsman. It's quite likely that Jesus' earthly father spent his days laboring on construction projects in and around Nazareth. He knew the meaning of hard work. He probably had dirt under his fingernails, callouses on his hands, and a firm handshake.

You see, being a saint isn't always pretty, because love isn't always pretty. Real love reveals itself through blood, sweat, and tears. Real saints aren't porcelain statues but men and women who have sacrificed their very lives for the good of others and the glory of God. In his famous novel, The Brothers Karamazov, the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote quite truthfully that "Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams."

But, for Saint Joseph even dreams were not easy. In one dream he found out that he would be responsible for helping to raise the Savior. In another he was warned to flee because of coming persecution. He did all these things obediently and without hesitation. He was faithful to God and faithful to Mary. He was an honest man, a righteous man, a real man.

His example reminds us that we are all called to be saints and that moments of toil and labor are privileged occasions to grow in holiness. Pope Saint John Paul II described this concept in his encyclical letter Laborem Exercens: And yet, in spite of all this toil - perhaps, in a sense, because of it - work is a good thing for man ‚ because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes "more a human being" (9).

By Saint Joseph's example, Jesus Himself learned what it meant to be more fully human. Even though Joseph didn't speak a single word in any of the Gospels, his strength and integrity spoke for themselves. We should also follow his example by doing the hard work of love and dedicating all our labor to the glory of God.

Heavenly Father, through the intercession of Saint Joseph the Worker, give us the grace to be faithful to you in all that we do for the glory of Your Risen Son. Amen. Alleluia!

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