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Lenten Reflection Day 29 – St. Joseph, Model of Artisans

Opening Prayer:

Lord, you tell us to pray, ask and seek in your name with humble, watchful, persevering, and confident hearts.  I come to you this day and ask for your inspiration as I seek to do your Divine Will, and to make you known and loved in my home and community. Amen.

 

 

Reflection:

“I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.”

–  These are powerful words from Jesus in today’s Gospel. He is speaking to those who wish to kill him because he has broken the Sabbath by working miracles on a day of rest, but also because he has called God his Father, equating himself to God.  He explains that as the Son, he has learned all that he does from the Father, and that it is the Father who works through him for the good of all.  Here Jesus also explains that his judgement is just, which important as those persecuting him are calling into question his practice of the Law which dictates religious observance – it seems to them that Jesus is a contradiction if he claims to be one with God but also appears to be breaking religious laws as part of his ministry.

 

St. Joseph would have taught Jesus his trade as a craftsman.  Carpentry is an acquired skillset, so Jesus would have had to work intimately with St. Joseph to learn all the nuances of the craft.  St. Joseph, as a teacher, would have been careful not to take shortcuts when his apprentice was watching.  First you learn to do it the hard way – everything manually, from beginning to end – so that you understand fully the process and the totality of the work you are performing.  After a time, shortcuts and methods to expedite work would have been introduced as Jesus’ skills increased to help provide more efficiency.  Sometimes, however, a craftsman allows his apprentice to tackle a new problem on his own, and then takes time after the task is completed to critique and to show a better method – a better way.  The same picture is playing out with those persecuting Jesus.  They have their laws which they stringently follow, hoping this will provide an environment where they can worship the Father and show him due reverence.  Jesus is now telling them, that after many years of great difficulty, that there is a different method to serving the Father – a better way.

He tells them to Love the Lord your God with all their strength, mind and soul, and then to also Love their Neighbors as they love themselves.  If they truly loved their neighbor and allowed themselves to see the Image of God in their neighbor, then they would understand that to help those who are helpless and to serve those in need was equivocal to serving and worshiping the Father – especially on the Sabbath.

 

As apprentices are often want to do, those questioning Jesus are skeptical of this so-called “better way”, and so they test the waters.  Jesus gives the quote I used to start this reflection as the end of his explanation to those questioning his qualifications to speak to them as the Son of God, and it helps to remind them that he is nothing without the Father, and that he is simply doing the Will of the Father who sent him to serve.  Apprentices are only as good as the Journeymen and Masters who teach them.  Jesus is relating to them in terms familiar to those questioning him, but also intimately familiar to him by the way he was raised.  Any work that Jesus would have performed in St. Joseph’s workshop would have ultimately been the property of St. Joseph.  Jesus knew what it meant to serve the needs of another as he spent his childhood and young adulthood working with his foster father to support the family trade.  Now, rather than working with wood, Jesus is molding and shaping the moral lives of those seeking to serve God.  The Church has given St. Joseph the title of Model of Artisans, not only to recognize that he was a craftsman, but to remind us of the lessons he would have passed down to Jesus through his example of ethical work habits.  Jesus more fully knew what it was to serve others because he was the apprentice to a man who was first and foremost himself a servant to the Heavenly Father.

 

Closing Prayer:

St. Joseph, help me be like you.  Help me to be obedient to the teachings of the Church and faithful to God’s commands.  Help me to patiently endure my cross each day.  Let me be a model of holiness and a pillar of virtue.  I solemnly promise to embrace God’s will and I accept the challenge to work tirelessly for my family’s salvation.  Be my guide and companion on this journey.  St. Joseph, Terror of Demons, pray for us.

About Zachary Morgan

Executive Director of the Men of St. Joseph. Zachary is a native of West Virginia and currently lives in Minnesota with his wife Anne and six children. Zachary served the local church in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis working in Liturgy, Marriage Preparation, Religious Education and Advocacy for the past 11 years before becoming the Executive Director for the Men of St. Joseph.

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