The month of May is dedicated to Mary, Jesus’ Mother and in the Catholic Church there are devotions dedicated to her during this month.
In years gone by, there were processions with a statue of Mary being decorated with flowers and carried in the street. Today, it is more usual for people to recite prayers such as the Rosary or a Litany to Our Lady in church. Although the month is dedicated to Mary, 1 May is a day dedicated to her husband, St. Joseph under the name of St Joseph the Worker.
In 1955, at a time when Communism was becoming strong in Italian political life, Pope Pius XII introduced the feast of St Joseph the Worker into the liturgical calendar. This reflects Joseph’s status as what many Catholics and other Christians consider him as the ‘patron of workers’ and ‘model of workers’. By his daily labour in his carpentry shop, he offered to God, with patience and joy, his talent and so provided for his spouse and her child, Jesus.
Under the patronage of St. Joseph the Worker, our daily work, whether it be paid employment or domestic tasks, take on a spiritual dimension because we are continuing God’s desire for the world which is for us to be servants to each other (Jn 13:14).
We know from the Gospel that St Joseph was the carer of Mary and the child Jesus because he not only provided for them materially through his carpentry business but also by taking Mary to be his wife in the face of opposition from society (Mt 1:18-25) and fleeing to Egypt after being told in a dream to do so by God’s messenger (Mt 2:13-18). So St Joseph is a model to us today as someone who followed God’s ways and used his God-given talent to provide a living for his family and was not motivated by greed or excess. As we decide how we will cast our vote in the forthcoming General Election, perhaps we can deliberate if the political parties’ policies are motivated to allow people to provide a living for their families or for large companies to exploit people for greed?