Readings: Acts 15:1-6, Ps. 122:1-5, John 15:1-8

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

Today, the first of May is known as International Workers Day. In many countries, it is observed as a public holiday to celebrate workers' contributions to national development. For us Christians, today is a day to remember the man who taught Jesus Christ how to work and because of whom Jesus was addressed as ‘the Carpenter’s Son’. While we join the world to celebrate workers, we celebrate St. Joseph, the head of the Holy Family. This feast was instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1955. Coincidentally, today’s readings present some salient points on achieving fruitfulness as workers.

1. Do Not Be Distracted By Traditions: Every organisation (company or group) has certain codes of conduct that guide its staff or members. Some of these codes have been practised for many years and may have lost their relevance over time but have become ingrained in the mentality of such organisations. For instance, in today’s first reading, some men from Judea brought a disturbing teaching to the Christian converts: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Meanwhile, circumcision was only a sign, not the essence of the covenant with God. “You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between you and me.” (Genesis 17:11). By emphasising circumcision, these Jewish Christians did not realise the importance of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. Are there traditions around my work that have lost relevance over time?

2. Stay Connected to Jesus: There is a saying that “What is beyond six is more than seven.” As a worker in any field, pay attention to your spiritual life and do not depend solely on your human efforts and skills. Jesus tells us today: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” Listen to Jesus daily. Obey God’s commandments. Do not worship money. Today, many business people, including so-called Christians, get entangled with the devil, all in the name of protecting their business. By so doing, they mortgage their souls. The devil can never bless you.  

3. Glorify God By Your Work: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:7-8). As a Christian worker, remember that you are a missionary. In other words, we should aim for productivity and fruitfulness. Beyond doing your job excellently to satisfy your customers and employers, aim to win souls for God. This can only happen when you are prayerful and abide in (study) God’s Word daily. Remember, you cannot give what you don’t have. You cannot convert your fellow workers if you are not well-grounded in God’s Word or are not prayerful.

4. Make St. Joseph Your Role Model: As a worker, emulate the virtues of St. Joseph, which include righteousness – a commitment to do what is right and not cut corners, protection of the family – being ready to take risks for the good of those under your care, hard work and diligence – see work as a blessing and not as a curse, chastity – avoid all forms of immorality, obedience to God – seek to please God above everything else, silence – let your actions speak louder than your words, prudence – never rush to decide anything; sleep over the issue and let God speak to your heart. When work gets hard and tough, ask St. Joseph to pray to God on your behalf, and He who wasn’t afraid of work will intercede for you.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, grant me the grace to abide firmly in you always. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (Wednesday of the 5th week of Eastertide or Saint Joseph the Worker. Bible Study: Acts 15:1-6, Ps. 122:1-5, John 15:1-8).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu