Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker

May 1, 2015

His origins shrouded in mystery, his vocation born in a dream, Joseph steps out from the penumbra of God’s ordinary presence and into the light of God’s extraordinary grace.

How so like the vocation of the laity! No ceremony marks it; no special title conferred; just a conviction that God asks us to step up, to step out, and make His Son known and loved in the world.  Out of a dream, the drama begins: fits and starts, progress and regress, sometimes prepared, most times surprised. Joseph reminds us that when God calls, “I, too, am with you.”

While the Lord had Mary’s eyes, he had Joseph’s way of seeing things: fathers and sons, farmers and fields, worship, women and wisdom.

How so like the task of the laity! Foster-fathers of the children of God, we give shape and substance to that form of God’s grace now. Grace made permanent in priests and each other is made supple through our example, our words, our encouragement. Joseph reminds us that where God is born anew, “We are together.”

Even in His final hours, thoughts of Joseph must have come flooding back – not in the familiar faces now bent by the logic of the crowd, not in the neighbors now strangers, nor in the common chorus of fellowship made mob – but in the wood, the feel and fragrance of the wood.

To take up rough-hewn timber, what could have been more familiar, familial, to the son of Joseph? Memories of long days in his company with nothing said but, “Our common task is love.”

How so like the situation of the laity! To take up the familiar, again and again. After all, they come and go; we remain. Exotic in their ways; ours is a simpler tale of staying put. The jangle of keys, the smell of wax and dust, the squeak of the copier. How so like the fragrance of wood to a carpenter and a carpenter’s son. How so like the cross at times?

Joseph assures us: I am with you. We are together. Our common task is love.


Dr. Christpher J. Thompson, Academic Dean