What St. Joseph the Worker Can Teach Us About the Dignity of Work

St. Joseph inspires Christians everywhere as an exemplary model of humility, industriousness, and fidelity to one’s vocation. In a special way, this feast day also leads us to recognize the human and supernatural value of work – something that I’m sure resonates very closely to each of us as Young Catholic Professionals.

As an ordinary carpenter, St. Joseph showed Jesus, the Savior of the world, how to work. There must have been many simple moments in his life when St. Joseph would ask our Lord to hand him a piece of wood, or showed him how to chisel or plane. In times of both energy or exhaustion, St. Joseph was able to look upon his foster-Son and realize that through his work, he was taking a part in the salvation of mankind.

The Dignity and Value of Human Work

Today, the Church specially recognizes the dignity and value of all honest human occupations. In Genesis we find how from the beginning, man was made to take part in Creation through his labor. Though the conditions of work changed after the fall of our first parents, Christ became man to teach us how it plays a greater role in our own redemption.

In the words of St. Josemaria Escriva:

“Work, all work, bears witness to the dignity of man, to his dominion over creation. It is an opportunity to develop one’s personality. It is a bond of union with others, the way to support one’s family, a means of contributing to the improvement of society in which we live and the progress of all humanity.”

By striving to carry out the various tasks of our professions with excellence and perfection, we are not only transforming into the best version of ourselves, we are gradually transforming society itself. But we can’t stop there: though we are helping others with our work, we cannot lose sight that our work has both a supernatural as well as a human purpose. Not only should we do our tasks well, we should do them with love. Work then becomes more than just everyday obligations – it is a beautiful way we participate in God’s plan for our salvation.

St. Joseph’s Example

To human eyes, St. Joseph was just a carpenter – and Jesus was known as merely a carpenter’s son before he began his ministry. But God gave St. Joseph a unique mission that no one in history – aside from Mary – can compare. God fittingly prepared his faithful servant Joseph to carry out an extraordinary vocation: to guard and care for his beloved Son and his mother Mary, and in this way, share in the fulfillment of Christ’s passion and death for our salvation.

St. Joseph is not a great saint because of mighty deeds seen by the masses; instead, he is great because he responded in a heroic way to the graces given to him to carry out his God-given vocation with humility and obedience.

As we honor our patron St. Joseph today, let us ask him to help us respond to the graces of our own vocation in the middle of the world. Ask him to teach us to be aware of the presence of God which he had while he was engrossed in his work.

Amen.

St. Joseph is the patron saint of Young Catholic Professionals. Visit our national website for the Prayer to St. Joseph the Worker.

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