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Sunday:       Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker.
Date:         May 1, 2017.
Year:         A
The readings: [Acts 6:8-15; Jn. 6:22-29]
The message:  Loyal and honest to one another.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry.
Total words:  1187

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** The readings follow the sermon.

Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to today's celebration of the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. Over and above the celebration of this Feast, we are celebrating another event that is called the "International Workers' Day." In its wisdom, the Holy Catholic Church deemed it proper to combine these two celebrations because in the person of Saint Joseph is found the holiness that all workers as employers and employees should strive to achieve in their Christian lives.

When we review the life of St. Joseph who was beyond any doubt a model worker worthy of imitating, we are left with no choice but to condemn many of the sinful practices that go on in today's work places.

During the past twenty to thirty years, we members of society have become more and more aware of the international abuses of employers towards their employees. I am sure that most of you have heard of countries that use child labour in the manufacturing of their goods. Others, although denying it, use slavery as their means of gaining wealth. Some foreign manufacturers employ underpaid women who are required to work extremely long hours, they barely making enough to support their hungry families.

Over and above this, there are the big companies from some wealthy nations that take advantage of the poor nations. They drain their resources. They close their eyes to the mistreatment of workers or the usage of child labour, as long as they are making a dollar. And let us not forget our own continent and its mean wealthy employers who pay minimum wages to its workers when it can afford to pay more. They place their personal comfort above all, closing their eyes to the poverty of their workers.

All of these practices result in ongoing work accidents, poverty, hunger, poor health, sickness and even death in some cases. The impact of such practices not only affects individual workers who may be the sole bread winner, but it also affects every member of their families.

Another area of abuse that we frequently hear of is when employers sexually harass their workers and situations where they expect sexual favours from them in return for compensation. And that is not restricted to men sexually harassing women. There are women in management positions who sexually harass their male workers. And there are male employers who sexually harass their male workers and female employers who sexually harass their female workers in order to satisfy their sexual deviancies.

When we consider the role of Saint Joseph as the God chosen head and protector of the Jewish holy family, we wonder how it is possible for some human beings to debase themselves to the extent that their worldly desires have overcome their spiritual obligations towards their God given families.

When God the Father entrusted the Infant Jesus to the care of St. Joseph, was it for the purpose of child labour? Certainly not! When God the Father entrusted the Virgin Mary to the care of St. Joseph, was it as a sexual object? Certainly not!

As a carpenter, Saint Joseph could have taken advantage of the free labour of Jesus as a child to increase the family production of goods which consequently would have increased their wealth. It is obvious that this did not happen because the Holy Bible tells us that Jesus was well educated in the Scriptures. While the Lord Jesus may have spent time with Saint Joseph to learn the worldly trade of carpentry, He also had to spend lost of time with His mother who taught Him the spiritual, the Mosaic Laws, as was the Jewish custom.

As the spouse of the Virgin Mary, where the two became one through marriage, Saint Joseph had the right to demand from his spouse the marital obligations to which he was entitled. But no, embracing a spiritual mind in obedience to the Divine Will of God, through self-control, Saint Joseph took it upon himself to preserve the virginity of the Mother of God. Because Saint Joseph embraced the praiseworthy virtue of chastity during his marriage to the Virgin Mary, the Lord God blessed him and elevated him among the most popular saints.

Until now, most of what has been said has been in condemnation of the unacceptable practices of employers in their workplaces. But what about the employees? Are they all beyond reproach?

Are the employees practicing all the desirable qualities that an employer expects of them? Surely, loyalty and honesty stand in the forefront. An employer who pays the wages of his employees, does he not expect his employees to respect him versus bickering at everything all the time? Does he not expect them to work as a team versus causing division within the workplace? Does he not expect in the manufacturing of goods that his workers will produce quality versus defective material? And does he not expect his workers to give a day's work for a day's pay?

On the subject of honesty, does the employer not expect his employees to be honest? How often do we hear of someone helping himself freely to small little objects such as the company's pencils and pens? Do they not know that taking a pencil from the workplace without permission from the business owner is theft? The employer has to disburse money to replace this item! And what about when it comes to dealing with customers? Do the workers attend to the customers with integrity?

And let us not forget the sick leaves and the coffee breaks. How many employees advise their workplace that they will not report for work because they are sick when in reality, they are not sick, but they wish to use up their sick leaves? Is this not the abuse of a privilege provided by the employer? Do the employees stretch their 15 minute coffee breaks to 30 minutes? Are these practices, of abusing sick leaves and coffee breaks, not stealing from the employer when one is being paid for time that has not been worked?

The message in what has been said until now is that if we remain faithful to the fruit of the Holy Spirit, [Gal. 5:22-3] God rewards us for our faithfulness. God is pleased with those who have the Spirit of love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. God takes no pleasure in punishing those who are selfish, those who abuse or neglect their rights as employers or employees.

As Christians, we have an obligation to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as true brothers and sisters. God did not create us in this world to be tyrants or thieves. He created us to love one another as Jesus loved us, to support one another, to encourage one another and to spiritually grow together. Then, one day, we will all rejoice in the eternal Kingdom of joy and peace that awaits all the faithful children of the Lord.

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit[a] with which he spoke.

Then they secretly instigated some men to say, 'We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.' They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council.

They set up false witnesses who said, 'This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth[b] will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.'

And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel."[Acts 6:8-15]

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Gospel Reading...

"After Jesus had fed the crowd from the five loaves, he crossed the lake by walking on the sea. The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone.

Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.[a] So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?' Jesus answered them, 'Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.'

Then they said to him, 'What must we do to perform the works of God?' Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'"[Jn. 6:22-29]

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