Brother Michael Stromber, CP, a missionary in Jamaica, WI, produced this sculptor of St. Joseph the Worker some years ago. Brother Michael is a fine artist as well as an ordinary worker. He fixes almost anything, cars, toilets, broken light fixtures, chairs. Not much he doesn’t know how to do.
I pass this sculpture regularly on my way up to my room on the 3rd floor in the monastery. The faces on the statue are blank, you can see, which is the way it is with so many ordinary workers in our society, isn’t it? We hardly notice them. We only see what they do.
In this case, that’s clearly shown in our sculpture. The most defined thing in it is the hammer in Joseph’s hand which he’s sharing with the young boy standing with him. He’s teaching the young boy how to work with it. They are absorbed in what they’re doing.
How dismissive are the people of Nazareth when Jesus begins to speak in their synagogue! “Where did he get this wisdom? Isn’t he the son of Joseph, the carpenter?” The man who fixes things and we hardly notice him.
This feast encourages us to see the dignity of work and so many things associated with it– the right to a just wage, equality of wages for women and men. The right to a job, the right to join other workers to seek good working conditions.
How important to pass on to the young what Joseph is passing on to Jesus. It’s a wisdom the people of Nazareth, unfortunately, don’t see.