Today’s Gospel begins to turn our minds and hearts to the culminating events of the Easter season, especially the Lord’s Ascension into the glory of Heaven. His risen body is due a glorious worship far beyond what we could provide for Him on Earth. He will soon receive that external glory – fitting for the internal glory of the Risen Lord – on Ascension Thursday.
Our Lord promises that, after we no longer see Him on Earth, we will then see Him again in Heaven. In this movement of the Easter season, then, our hearts are drawn ever upwards, as we are exhorted by St. Peter in the Epistle to put away the desires of the flesh and to set our hearts on spiritual and heavenly pleasures.
Today is also traditionally the celebration of the Easter solemnity of St. Joseph, transferred from Wednesday. St. Joseph teaches us how to live well in this life with our hearts set on the life of future glory in Heaven. This is the secret of happiness that he teaches us, especially in our work. As he worked long hours in his carpentry, St. Joseph never lost his contemplative gaze upon Almighty God and upon His marvelous works in Jesus and Mary. He never left the presence of God in order to give his heart to creatures.
We have a tendency in our fallen nature to become very absorbed in our work in view of the goods of this life. In this absorption, bitter experience teaches us, we lose our peace of soul and become as scattered as the many different created goods we are pursuing. St. Joseph teaches us that we are to bring the wisdom of God even into our professional lives, that we are to work in light of the truth that there is need of only One Thing. This means maintaining our constant prayer, even at work, and it means putting work and its demands in their proper place in our lives. God always comes first.
When our hearts are set on the things of this world, we are miserable. When our hearts are set on the things of Heaven, we are magnanimous and joyful and free. This is a liberating Easter lesson taught to us by St. Joseph the Worker.
Father Joseph Previtali