Grace: To have heartfelt knowledge of Jesus who is the Son of God and my brother, so that I may love him more fervently and follow him more closely.
Text for Prayer: Luke 2:51-52
Reflection: In Jesus’ public ministry, his parables are down to earth and make use of common images and experiences of people at that time. The simplest explanation for how Jesus was able to utilize these scenes from everyday life was that he actually lived them himself. Today’s Gospel text offers us an opportunity to enter into the mystery Jesus’ working life. The fact that he worked most of his life as a poor day laborer, shepherd, carpenter, and/or general handyman should make us reflect on the many good things work has to offer us.
Jesus’ work has two dimensions—the human and the divine. Throughout all of his life both dimensions are active: “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working still, and I am working.’” (Jn 5:17). All Jesus does is in relation to the Father—we see this in him already as a twelve-year-old. Let this knowledge guide our imaginative prayer.
The Catechism has this to say about this period of obscurity in Jesus’ life at Nazareth: “During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of God, a life in the community…”
Pope Paul VI offered these words on the Feast of the Holy Family in 1964: “The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus – the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us. . . A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character. . . A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the “Carpenter’s Son”, in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work. . . To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern their brother who is God.”
Take a moment today to imagine what it would be like to be a fly on the wall in the workshop where Joseph taught Jesus how to work. Think about their relationship, the values and habits that Joseph was able to impart to a young and impressionable Jesus. Think about how Joseph must have been someone Jesus wanted to grow up to be like, to emulate.
Questions: What kinds of emotions arise when I think about Jesus’ life of silence, of work, of obedience, of anonymity, and of constant prayer? How often do I complain about my work? Why? What can I find about my work that is meaningful, sanctifying, and redemptive? How can I make people better around me in the workplace?