Three dates help us understand the feast we celebrate today: 1847, 1886, and 1955.
– Pius IX in 1847 establishes for the universal Church the feast of St. Joseph as the Patron Saint of the Workers by setting it for the third Sunday of Easter.
– On May 1, 1886, the Chicago workers’ strike will mark a before and after in the struggle of working classes for decent working conditions.
– In 1955, Pius XII changed the feast of the patron saint of workers to May 1 with the title of St. Joseph the Worker
On March 19, we echoed the Apostolic Letter Patris Corde which Pope Francis wrote on 8 December 2020, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph’s declaration as patron of the universal Church by Pius IX. There he tells us about him as a working Father and says:
One aspect that characterizes St Joseph and has stood out since the time of the first social encyclical, the Rerum Novarum of Leó XIII, is its relationship with work. St. Joseph was a carpenter who worked honestly to secure his family’s livelihood. From him, Jesus learned the courage, dignity, and joy of what it means to eat bread that is the fruit of one’s own work.
In our present day, when work seems to have once again represented an urgent social issue and unemployment sometimes reaches impressive levels, even in those nations where for decades there has been certain well-being, it is necessary, with renewed awareness, to understand the meaning of the work that gives dignity and of which our saint is an exemplary patron.
Work becomes a participation in the very work of salvation, an opportunity to accelerate the advent of the Kingdom, to develop one’s own potentials and qualities, putting them at the service of society and communion. Work becomes an occasion for realization not only for oneself but above all for that original core of society that is the family. A jobless family is more exposed to difficulties, tensions, fractures, and even the desperate and desperate temptation of dissolution. How could we talk about human dignity without committing ourselves so that each and everyone may have the possibility of a dignified livelihood?
The person who works, whatever her task, collaborates with God Himself, becomes a little creative of the world around us.
The crisis of our time, which is an economic, social, cultural, and spiritual crisis, can represent for all a call to rediscover the meaning, importance, and necessity of work to give rise to a new “normal” in which no one is excluded. St Joseph’s work reminds us that God himself made man did not disdain work. The loss of work that affects so many brothers and sisters, and which has increased in recent times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, should be a call to review our priorities. Let us implore St Joseph the Worker to find ways to lead us to say: No young man, no person, no family without a job!
At today’s feast we ask ourselves: Do I live my work as an occasion to develop my potentials and qualities and put them at the service of society and communion? Am I aware that with my work I collaborate with God in his creative work? DoI recognize the dignity of the people I employ? Do I ensure that their conditions are just and dignified?
Let’s ask San Jose to help us look at the world of work from all its angles. May it enlighten us to find the way that leads us, through a broad and constructive dialogue, to create employment for all, decent working conditions, fair economic conditions for the livelihood of families and jobs where the person experiences that he develops his capacities and contributes to the common good.