Saint Joseph the Worker, model and guarantor of workers’ dignity

“Work ennobles man”, goes the saying, but, we immediately add, “it can enslave him and reduce him to slavery”. With this wisdom in mind, the Assemblée des évêques catholiques du Québec is sounding the alarm on the current food crisis. In a beautiful message that I invite you to read, our bishops invite us to pay attention to the current food crisis, to analyze the situation in the light of the Gospel, and to consider various courses of action so that everyone can eat their fill.

Indeed, the number of workers relying on food aid has skyrocketed in just a few years! Behind the statistics are suffering people and communities. Do we perceive this suffering around us? Are we sensitive to it? That’s the question our bishops are rightly asking us.

In his Wednesday catecheses a little over two years ago, Pope Francis addressed the theme of work: Joseph’s work as a carpenter, but also current problems linked to work or the lack of it. His verdict was without appeal: “What gives you dignity is to earn bread, and if we don’t give our people, our men and women, the opportunity to earn bread, it’s a social injustice in our countries, in our societies, on our continents”.

Recalling that work is “an essential component of human life”, “a means of earning a living”, but also “a place where we realize ourselves, where we feel useful, and where we learn the great lesson of concreteness”, the Pope wished that it “could be lived as a fundamental human right and duty”, and invited Christians to rediscover “the value of work”, freeing it from “the logic of mere profit”.

As we celebrate Saint Joseph, Patron Saint of Workers, on May 1, what else does his zeal and dignity as a carpenter from Nazareth tell us, except to follow in his footsteps and follow his example to obtain working conditions that guarantee the happiness and dignity of all workers, here in Quebec and around the world!

Our saintly Brother André, it seems, slept only a few hours a night, busy as he was cleaning the corridors of Collège Notre-Dame! Imitating Saint Joseph, he invites us not to begrudge our work, but to embrace it with joy, to earn our living, of course, but also and above all to serve our human brothers and sisters.

All eyes are on You, they hope, You give them food in due season. Lord, you open your hand and satisfy every living thing with pleasure! (Psalm 144)

To all of you, happy feast of Saint Joseph, Patron Saint of workers, and happy month of Mary!