On St. Joseph the Worker
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Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s weekly General Audience address in St. Peter’s Square today.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the 1st of May, we celebrate St. Joseph the Worker and begin the month traditionally dedicated to the Virgin Mary. During this encounter, I would thus like to reflect on these two important figures in the life of Jesus, of the Church and in our lives, with two brief thoughts: the first regarding work, the second on the contemplation of Jesus.
1. In the Gospel of St. Matthew, one of the times when Jesus returns to his native region, to Nazareth, and speaks in the synagogue, the Gospel underlines his fellow villagers' astonishment at his wisdom, and the question they ask one another: is not this the Carpenter's son?" (13:55). Jesus enters into our history, he comes into our midst, being born of Mary by the work of God, but with the presence of St. Joseph, the legal father who guards him and even teaches him his trade. Jesus was born and lived in a family, in the Holy Family, learning from St. Joseph the carpenter's trade, in the workshop of Nazareth, sharing with him his commitment, hard work and satisfaction, as well as each day's difficulties.
This calls to mind for us the dignity and importance of work. The Book of Genesis tells us that God created man and woman by entrusting to them the task of populating the Earth and subjugating it, which does not mean to exploit it, but to cultivate and guard it, to care for it with their own labour (cf. Gen 1:28; 2:15). The work is part of the plan of God's love; we are called to cultivate and safeguard all the goods of creation and in this way we participate in the work of creation! The work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use an image, "anoints" us with dignity, it fills us with dignity; it makes us similar to God, who has worked and works still, He is always acting (cf. Jn 5:17); it gives the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, to contribute to the growth of one's nation. And here I am thinking of the difficulties which, in different countries, today's world of work and enterprise are facing; I think about how many people, and not just young people, are unemployed, often because of an economic conception of society, which seeks selfish gain, outside of the parameters of social justice.
I would like to invite everyone to solidarity, and wish to encourage those those in charge of public affairs to make every effort to give new impetus to employment; this means caring for the dignity of the person; but mostly I would say not to lose hope. St. Joseph also had difficult moments, but never lost confidence and was able to overcome them, in the certainty that God does not abandons us. And then I would like to address specifically the adolescents and you young people: get involved in your daily duty, in study, in work, in friendships, in helping others; your future depends also on your wisdom in living these precious years of life. Don't be afraid of effort, of sacrifice and don't look to the future with fear; keep hope alive: there's always a light on the horizon.
I add a word about another particular work situation that bothers me: I am referring to what could be defined as "slave labor", work that enslaves. How many people, worldwide, are victims of this kind of slavery, where the person is at the service of work, when it must be work that offers a service to persons so that they may have dignity. I would ask my brothers and sisters in faith and all men and women of good will to make a decisive choice against the trafficking of persons, within which falls the category of "slave labor".
2. The second thought: in the silence of his daily activity, St. Joseph shared with Mary a single, common focal point of attention: Jesus. They accompany and guard, with dedication and tenderness, the growth of the Son of God made man for us, reflecting on everything that happens. In the Gospels, Luke points out twice the attitude of Mary, which is also that of St. Joseph: "She treasured all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (2:19.51).
To listen to the Lord, we must learn to contemplate, to perceive His constant presence in our lives; we have to stop and talk to Him, give Him space with prayer. Every one of us, even you adolescent boys and girls, and young people, so numuerous here this morning, should ask yourselves: how much space do I give the Lord? Do I stop to dialogue with Him? Ever since we were little, our parents have accustomed us to begin and end the day with a prayer, to teach us to feel that the friendship and the love of God accompany us. Let us remember the Lord more often in our days!
And in this month of May, I would like to recall the importance and the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Reciting the Hail Mary, we are led to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus, to reflect, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and for St. Joseph, He may be the center of our thoughts, our attention and our actions. It would be nice if, especially in this month of May, you would pray together as a family, with your friends, in the parish, the Holy Rosary or some prayer to Jesus and the Virgin Mary! Praying together is a precious moment for making family life and friendship even more stable! Let us learn to pray more in the family and as a family!
Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary to teach us to be faithful to our daily commitments, to live our faith in everyday actions and to give more space to the Lord in our lives, to stop to contemplate his face.
[Translation by Peter Waymel]
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Dear Brothers and Sisters:
On this first day of May, Mary’s month, we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, reminds us of the dignity and importance of labour. Work is part of God’s plan for the world; by responsibly cultivating the goods of creation, we grow in dignity as men and women made in God’s image. For this reason, the problem of unemployment urgently demands greater social solidarity and wise and just policies. I also encourage the many young people present to look to the future with hope, and to invest themselves fully in their studies, their work and their relationships with others. Saint Joseph, as a model of quiet prayer and closeness to Jesus, also invites us to think about the time we devote to prayer each day. In this month of May, the Rosary naturally comes to mind as a way to contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life. May Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary help us to be faithful in our daily work and to lift up our minds and hearts to Jesus in prayer.
Pope Francis (in italian):
I am pleased to greet the many pilgrimage groups present at today’s Audience, including those from the Archdiocese of Gwangju in South Korea. Upon all the English-speaking visitors, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Canada and the United States, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord.
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I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the priests of the Pontifical Missionary College St. Paul, the priests and seminarians of Vicenza, and the seminarians of the Opera Don Guanella. I also greet the religious of the Society of African Missions and the Daughters of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, who are celebrating their respective general chapters.
I greet the faithful of the many parishes, as well as of the associations, Scout groups and ecclesial realities. May this meeting strengthen in each a generous commitment to being faithful to their vocation and to Christian witnessing.
Finally, I address an affectionate thought to the young people, the sick and newlyweds. Dear young people, may you fall in love with Christ, to follow him with enthusiasm and loyalty. You, dear sick ones, dip your sufferings in the mystery of love of the Redeemer's Blood. And you, dear newlyweds, with your mutual and faithful love be an eloquent sign of Christ's love for the Church. Thank you!
[Translation by Peter Waymel]