USF Baccalaureate Mass

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May 1, 2021 – Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne

In the first reading today, we heard St. Paul’s simple exhortation to the Colossians: “Be thankful!” Be thankful! With thankfulness in our hearts, we gather for this Baccalaureate Mass this morning. We thank God for all his blessings in the lives of the 2021 graduates of the University of Saint Francis. And, graduates, together with you, we thank God for your parents, your teachers and all who made it possible for you to graduate today, to arrive at this important milestone in your life. At this Mass, we give thanks to God for the gifts He has given you, which you have used in your education and which you will use in the future as you continue your life’s journey.

It’s a happy coincidence that you are graduating on May 1st, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, during this special Year of St. Joseph. I imagine that most of you are looking forward to using your academic degrees to enter the work world. Perhaps you already have a job lined up or are seeking employment. Some of you may intend to pursue a graduate degree, ongoing academic work. Whatever your plans are, I invite you to reflect on the meaning of work and to see it as part of your vocation from God. We can learn from the example of St. Joseph the Worker.

As we heard in the Gospel, the people in Nazareth were astounded by Jesus’ wisdom, by His teaching and His miracles. They questioned how He could have such wisdom and power. They knew Him as the son of Mary and Joseph, a part of their community. They said: “Is he not the carpenter’s son?” So we learn that Joseph was an ordinary worker, a craftsman, a carpenter. The Son of God came into the world as the son of Mary and the son of a simple carpenter. In fact, Jesus worked in his father’s carpentry shop. He learned the trade of carpentry from His earthly father, St. Joseph.

St. Joseph worked with his hands. Maybe some of you graduates will work with your hands, maybe not in manual labor, but maybe with your hands on a computer. St. Joseph worked with wood and made furniture. He shows us the importance of human work of whatever kind. Because of his work, St. Joseph was able to support his family. And he did his work with dedication and skill. He was industrious. He did his work for the glory of God and for the love of his family. St. Joseph shows us that all the work we do can be for the glory of God and the good of others. I en