The importance of work and contemplating Jesus, following Joseph and Mary’s example, were the central themes of the Pope’s first catechesis in the month of May, which coincided with the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
Before the more than 70,000 persons gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the general audience, the Pope explained that Jesus “enters into our history, comes among us, born of Mary by an act of God, but with the presence of St. Joseph, his legal father who cares for him and also teaches him his work … the trade of carpentry in his workshop in Nazareth, sharing with him the commitment, the fatigue, the satisfaction, and also the difficulties of every day. This reminds us of the dignity and importance of labor. The Book of Genesis narrates that God created man and woman, entrusting to them the task of filling and subduing the earth, which did not mean exploiting it but cultivating and safeguarding it, caring for it with their very labor.”
“Labor is part of God’s plan of love. We are called to cultivate and safeguard all the goods of creation and, in this way, we participate in the act of creation! Labor is a fundamental element for the dignity of a person. … It makes us like God, who labored and labors, who always acts. He gives us the capacity to maintain ourselves, our family, to contribute to the growth of our own nations. Here,” the pontiff added, “I am thinking of the difficulties that, in various countries, the world of labor and business encounters today. I am think of how many, and not just young persons, are unemployed, often because of an economic conception of society that seeks selfish profit, outside the parameters of social justice.”
“I … invite all to solidarity, and encourage those responsible for public affairs to make every effort to give new impetus to employment. This means having care for the dignity of the person. Mostly I would like to say not to lose hope. Even St. Joseph had difficult moments, but he never lost trust and he knew how to overcome them with the certainty that God does not abandon us. “
After that exhortation, the Bishop of Rome referenced another troubling situation, “slave labor”, work that enslaves. “How many persons around the world are victims of this type of slavery in which the person is at the service of labor while it should be labor that offers service to the person so that they might have dignity. I ask our brothers and sisters in the faith and all men and women of good will to make a decisive choice against the trafficking of persons within which ‘slave labor’ figures.”
The Pope then touched upon the second theme of his catechesis, Jesus, who was Joseph and Mary’s shared centre of attention in the silence of their everyday actions. The attitude of both is revealed in how the Virgin, as St. Luke narrates in his Gospel, “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” “In order to listen to the Lord, we need to learn how to contemplate him, to perceive his constant presence in our lives. We need to stop and dialogue with him, give him space with our prayer. … Let us remember the Lord more during our days!”
During this month of May, I would like to recall the important and the beauty of praying the Holy Rosary,” Francis continued, “contemplating the mysteries of Jesus, reflecting, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and St. Joseph, He may be the centre of our thoughts, of our concerns, and of our actions. It would be beautiful if, above all during this month of May, we would recite together in our families, with our friends, and in our parishes, the Holy Rosary or some prayer to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Praying together is a precious moment for making our family life and our friendship more steadfast! Let us learn to pray more in our families and as a family!”
“Let us ask St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary,” the Holy Father concluded, “to teach us to be faithful to our everyday commitments, to live our faith in our everyday actions, and to give more space to the Lord in our lives, to stop and contemplate his face.”