He was working.
The faith he felt in his heart and soul was not something he could keep inside, like a deep secret. It was, instead, bursting to get out.
Stephen worked with the gifts God had given him to educate, evangelize, debate the truth of Christ. His actions converted souls and helped build a better world for those who listened to the wisdom of God that passed through him.
It is May 1, the day the Church pays honor to St. Joseph the Worker … indeed all who work to better the lives of themselves, their families and friends, their communities and this world. Pope Pius XII placed this on the Church’s Liturgical Calendar in 1955 in response to the “May Day” activities sponsored by Communists, whose praise stopped short of praising the Lord.
This is the day where your parish might offer to have a “Blessing of Tools” as a way to make holy the instruments we use to cooperate with God.
You might picture farmers bringing pitchforks and shovels, construction crews offering up hammers and drills, cooks carrying skillets and spatulas.
If Pius XII was alive today, he would probably want us to also bring our smart phones, keyboards, Twitter handles and Facebook pages … all part of the modern-day arsenal of tools we use to evangelize.
And so we bless these tools …
Heavenly Father, we praise you for the works of your creation. We come to you now and ask you to bless these tools. Give your blessing to those who use them in their work for the good of others.
We praise you for all the skills you have shared with your people, and we ask that they will always be exercised for your honor and glory.
We ask this grace through Christ our Lord. Amen.
You may be asking yourself, does God really bless the simple things I do at work each day?
Indeed. The Second Vatican Council taught us in Gaudium et spes that mankind has been commissioned to master the earth and all it contains … to rule the world in justice and holiness, while acknowledging that God is the creator of all and that we see everything in the universe in relation to Him.
On this day, we are reminded that this commission goes for everything, including our work – what may seem to be boring, mundane or simply ordinary things we do in everyday life.
We work in order to live. To feed our families, pay our bills and provide a home for our loved ones. But we also work to support our Church, feed the poor, house the homeless and care for the sick.
If you stop and think of all the good that comes out of punching a time clock, logging into a work computer or cashing a paycheck …
Think how far those nickels, dimes and dollars we earn – and spend – go toward helping the “least of our brothers and sisters” all over the world.
This kind of work is what our Lord had in mind in today’s Gospel when he rebuked the crowds who searched for him just so they could score some more bread and fish.
“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
Today … let us pray that we treat our work as sacred, recognizing the potential we all have to use God’s gifts to “clock-in” to His assembly line and cooperate in bringing about his Kingdom here on earth.