Mark Tooley of IRD highlights a talk by Michael Novak, “Jesus Was a Small Businessman.” Speaking to students at the Catholic University of America, Novak observed:
When he was the age of most of you in this room, then, Jesus was helping run a small business. There on a hillside in Nazareth, he found the freedom to be creative, to measure exactly, and to make beautiful wood-pieces. Here he was able to serve others, even to please them by the quality of his work. Here he helped his family earn its own way. Creativity, exactitude, quality, beauty, service to others, independence – this was the substance of his daily life. In preparation for all that was to come.
Novak’s claims about Jesus being a small businessman may be a bit provocative, as Tooley puts it, but hopefully in a positive sense of provoking greater considered reflection.
Indeed, Novak’s claims have a clear precedent in CST, as in Laborem Exercens section 26, titled “Christ, the Man of Work,” which reads in part: “For Jesus not only proclaimed but first and foremost fulfilled by his deeds the ‘gospel’, the word of eternal Wisdom, that had been entrusted to him. Therefore this was also ‘the gospel of work’, because he who proclaimed it was himself a man of work, a craftsman like Joseph of Nazareth.”
You can read the whole text of Novak’s address, “For Catholics, the Vocation of Business is the Main Hope for the World’s Poor,” given at CUA this past January.