Third Week of Eastertide

Monday 1 May
St Joseph the Worker

Acts 6.8-15
Psalm 119.23-24, 26-27, 29-30
John 6.22-29

Today is the memorial of St Joseph the Worker, a response to the celebration of Workers’ Day in certain cultures; Joseph’s great virtue was of course that of silent obedience, and that we should do well to imitate. I’m suggesting however that we take instead the readings for the Easter season. Both of them tell us ‘what happened next’. The first reading is the aftermath of the appointment of the seven ‘deacons’ to deal with an instance of racial and religious tension in the early Church. One of those appointed was Stephen, and to our astonishment we find him, not waiting at table, as we had supposed, but ‘full of grace and power, doing great portents and signs among the people’. This leads to an encounter with the members of one or more synagogues, who are evidently of the same Greek-speaking background as himself; and that in turn leads to a false charge before a kangaroo court, and, ultimately, to his death; but our last glimpse of him is as of a ‘face like that of an angel’. The gospel for today is another aftermath, that of Jesus walking on the water, after the feeding of the 5000, and it has Jesus and the disciples mysteriously arrived on land, and the crowd ‘looking for Jesus’ and asking (an excellent question, this), ‘Lord when did you come here?’ Jesus responds somewhat reprovingly, and tells them (like Joseph) to do God’s work, which is ‘to believe in the one whom God has sent’. There is a challenge for us today.

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