Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, which holds a special place in my heart. I took the vow name Joseph out of my love for workers, labor, and woodworking. Joseph was a carpenter; but he lived in an area with few necessary resources for such a vocation. Joseph had to make do with the scarcity. Materials would have been expensive and the job would not have earned a great deal of income.
Recently, someone passed along a section of bowling lane to me for a project. I’m attempting to repurpose it into a dining room table and chairs. I often try to repurpose old items or use disposed materials like tree branches. But as a woodworker, there are plenty of shiny new tools and materials I’d love to buy. Each item I buy impacts the environment, climate change, and those who suffer most from environmental degradation – the poor.
The waste of consumption overwhelmingly falls onto the poor. Trash and waste disposal preys on the poor with environmental classism. Climate change further entrenches systemic racism. My consumption creates someone else’s scarcity. Or worse yet, my consumption damages another person’s health, housing, and livelihood. Constantly buying and consuming destroys both the environment and the lives of our neighbors. Perhaps instead we should look to Joseph as an example of utilizing what little we have so others can live more fully.
- What do I over-consume at the expense of others?
- Do I expect the poor to live in scarcity so that I can enjoy plentifulness?
- How can I fast or consume less this Lent so that others may have a greater share at the table?
- How does my use of materials reflect care for creation and love of my neighbor?
Bro.Ken Homan, S.J., is a Jesuit brother currently studying and writing at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. In addition to his work as a student, Bro.Ken works in union organizing and environmental justice. In his spare time, he is a woodworker and master of puns.