Opinion Op Ed 19 Mar 2019 Mystic Mantra: Prote ...
Francis Gonsalves is a professor of theology. He can be contacted at fragons@gmail.com

Mystic Mantra: Protect God’s gifts

Published Mar 19, 2019, 2:20 am IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 2:20 am IST
By profession, St Joseph was a carpenter who slogged hard to support Jesus and Mary.
One of the saints who is revered as a silent worker, collaborator and protector with God is St Joseph, whose feast is celebrated today. (Representational image)
 One of the saints who is revered as a silent worker, collaborator and protector with God is St Joseph, whose feast is celebrated today. (Representational image)

When asked by her teacher: “Who created you?” a little girl replied, “God created half of me!” Surprised, the teacher queried: “And, what about the other half?” She replied: “I created it myself!” Strange though such an answer might sound, there’s some truth in it.

The Bible says that we are “created in the image and likeness of God.” Thus, each of us has a great capacity to be creative and to work with God, the Creator and Protector, to invent new possibilities of living and loving. One of the saints who is revered as a silent worker, collaborator and protector with God is St Joseph, whose feast is celebrated today.

 

Normally, Catholics commemorate feasts of the saints on the date of their death — based on the belief that when saintly people die, they begin a new resurrected life in God’s presence. Thus, all saints have one feast day. But St Joseph seems extra-special since he is remembered twice: today, and also on May 1st: International Workers’ Day.

Three virtues of St Joseph are worth emulating: (i) his prayerful silence, (ii) his hard labour, and (iii) his caring protection. Although he is the foster-father of Jesus and a central figure in the Bible, St Joseph is not known by his words but by his works. In fact, the Bible does not record any word spoken by him but portrays him as one who listened to God’s word and obeyed silently. Were St Joseph’s words to be recorded, they’d probably be: “Yes, God! Your will be done!”

By profession, St Joseph was a carpenter who slogged hard to support Jesus and Mary. In those days, carpentry demanded great toil and talent but earned little reward. It’s not surprising that St Joseph is regarded as the “patron of workers” and specially remembered on Labour Day. Religious traditions like Sikhism uphold the value of work, “kar seva”, performed unconditionally and joyfully. Such seva brings bountiful blessings to the sevak who selflessly serves.

Exactly six years ago on March 19, 2013, at his papal-installation ceremony, Pope Francis extolled St Joseph as being a protector par excellence and exhorted all to be “protectors” at various levels by “protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly and those in need.” He added: “Everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!”

This week marks many commemorations: International Day of Happiness (20th), Holi and International Day of Forests (21st), and World Water Day (22nd). God created us to be truly happy, to destroy evil and promote good. May God’s gifts — forests and water — be shared by all. May you and I be creators, workers and protectors collaborating with God!

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