Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

9/1/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The dignity and honor of human labor is clearly revealed in the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ

When God Incarnate entered into our created world, he sanctified humankind and the labor in which men engage in order to shape creation. It is in gazing through the supreme lens of the consummation of God's revelation, the Person of Jesus Christ, that the divine light of truth is thrown upon human labor. Its sanctity and dignity is then revealed, opening a doorway in which human labor is seen as a participation in God's work.

For the Christian, all human work participates in the ongoing work of redemption

For the Christian, all human work participates in the ongoing work of redemption

Highlights

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/1/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Labor day, the dignity and honor of work, Jesus Christ sanctified human labor, human work, Deacon F. K. Bartels



GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- Although Labor Day is a day of rest, it is also a day on which we celebrate the honor and dignity of human labor. Unfortunately, these two terms, "honor" and "dignity," are rarely correctly associated with labor in contemporary society, since the meaning of human work is often distorted and reduced as it is viewed heavily -- or only -- through the lenses of productivity and efficiency.

While it is obvious that businesses and corporations cannot continue to exist under sustained financial losses, an impoverished understanding of human labor can result in perceiving man as merely a sentient tool which is used to accomplish but one ultimate goal: profit.

The Catholic understanding of labor is, however, very different from the way in which it is commonly understood in today's highly secularized society. In order to understand human labor in its fullest sense, it is necessary to begin with the human person.

It is precisely at this point, at the inviolable dignity of the human person whose life is both created and sustained by God, that the Church draws her understanding of everything that has to do with human rights and society itself. Therefore we never look at the human person in isolation, as an entity unto himself, but rather in context with the Creator who graciously willed him into existence through a superabundance of love.

Reflect for a moment on where we have derived our being and life: God has willed to create man, and in so doing, has created man in his image and likeness, endowing him with spiritual powers of intellect and will. Man is therefore an "outstanding manifestation of the divine image," the "only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake" (Gaudium et spes 17, 24).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that "The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit" (1704). These truths and concepts of our existence are, indeed, truly magnificent.

Jesus Teaches Us To Appreciate Work

Further, the moment we reflect on the human person, we are immediately led to the Person of Jesus Christ, who entered into our created world and became man, like us in all things except sin. We cannot think of the human person apart from Christ, for a proper understanding of the human person is inseparable from the sacred humanity of the Savior of humankind. And it is no different with human labor: the full dimension of man's work is revealed and contained in Christ himself.

As we reflect on the dignity and honor of labor, we are drawn to the tranquil setting of Nazareth and the Holy Family: here, in St. Joseph's carpenter shop, we imagine the young Jesus with mallet in hand, his foster father directing him from behind, guiding his blows as he learns to carefully strike a freshly honed chisel in just the right manner and with just enough force to properly shape the wood.

Soon, the Blessed Mother enters, sets a flagon of cool water on a wooden bench, and delicately kisses the young Jesus on the forehead. The work stops. The tools are set aside. She smiles and kneels beside her Son.

Mary, ever-Virgin and ever-sweet, carefully looks at her husband's and Son's work. The conversation is soft, peaceful and meaningful. There is a grace infused joy that permeates the air. After a cool drink, the Holy Family enters into prayer, adoring and praising the Father for his boundless graces and love. Then, the young Jesus again takes up his mallet.

Blessed John Paul II observed that Jesus, having "become like us in all things, devoted most of the years of his life on earth to manual work at the carpenter's bench" (Laborem Exercens 6).

The Compendium Of The Social Doctrine Of The Church reminds us that, while man is not to be enslaved by work, since before all else he must be concerned about his soul (260), during Jesus' preaching and life he teaches us to appreciate work (259). Our Lord labored tirelessly during his earthly ministry, freeing men and women from sickness and death, and accomplishing powerful deeds of mercy (261).

When God Incarnate entered into our created world, he sanctified humankind and the labor in which men engage in order to shape creation. It is in gazing through the supreme lens of the consummation of God's revelation, the Person of Jesus Christ, that the divine light of truth is thrown upon human labor.

Its sanctity and dignity is then revealed, opening a doorway in which human labor is seen as a participation in God's work. And indeed it is, for God has willed to exercise his divine power through man: God sustains us and infuses us with the energy and grace to freely and actively take part in accomplishing his divine plan for mankind. We are not outside observers. We are free instruments of God's power and will.

Work and Toil and Miserly Soil

Some see work as a curse. Indeed, such disordered realities as materialism or economic tenets that try to "reduce the worker to being a mere instrument of production, a simple labor force with an exclusively material value," severely distort the essence of work and strip it of its noble finality (CSDC 271). However, "work is part of the original state of man and precedes his fall; it is therefore not a punishment or a curse" (CSDC 256). Work "becomes toil and pain because of the sin of Adam and Eve, who break their relationship of trust and harmony with God" (Ibid.).

The suffering we experience in association with work is, to this very day, due to sin. If we reflect carefully on the demands and tensions of work, those expectations which grate on us day in and day out, those stresses which seem an inherent part of relating to others in the work environment, we soon realize that it is sin which has brought about this unfortunate situation. It is sin that has produced these thistles and thorns which seem to have overrun the vineyard. Although our desire is to harvest grapes peacefully, it seems this can only be accomplished at the cost of our bloodied feet.

But even this pain can nearly evaporate if we will but understand we are God's children, created for a very great, sublime purpose: to participate in God's will, to live a holy life and to exist in freedom and love for all eternity with God. Let us grasp this concept: God does not demand success, but rather love, fidelity and kindness. This is mentioned simply because the spirit of the modern world labors to convince us of a false purpose: that we exist to accumulate wealth and power, and that the measure of a man is found in the extent to which he has excelled in such an endeavor.

Human Labor: Brotherhood and Service Raised To The Grandeur of God

However, the honor and dignity of human labor is not derived from individual success; nor is the ultimate purpose of work the accumulation of material wealth. On the contrary, human work finds its honor, dignity and purpose in the mystery of Christ's own life. As the unsearchable riches of Christ are brought to light in ever greater measure, human work becomes a service raised to the grandeur of God (CSDC 262). Thus, in the context of our Savior's life, human work truly transcends all worldly measures.

Further, when we find ourselves confronted or weakened by the manifold pressures of work, we can be consoled in the fact that by patiently enduring such difficulties we join in union with our Savior: "Those who put up with the difficult rigors of work in union with Jesus cooperate, in a certain sense, with the Son of God in his work of redemption and show that they are disciples of Christ bearing his cross, every day, in the activity they are called to do" (CSDC 263).

Our Lord Jesus Christ practiced charity and mercy, sincerity and honesty always and everywhere. It is these types of virtues, demonstrated so perfectly in Christ's life, which are so desperately needed in today's work environment. In accurately seeing our existence as members of the one body of Christ, in understanding our ties of brotherhood within the human community, in correctly perceiving the honor and dignity of human labor which Christ himself sanctified, it is possible to transform the workplace and the world according to God's plan of love and goodness.

"Freeing people from evil, practicing brotherhood and sharing: these give to work its noblest meaning, that which allows humanity to set out on the path to the eternal Sabbath, when rest will become the festive celebration to which men and women inwardly aspire. It is precisely in orienting humanity toward this experience of God's Sabbath and of his fellowship of life that work is the inauguration on earth of the new creation" (CSDC 261).


----- Deacon F. K. Bartels is a Catholic Deacon and writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Living Faith

MAKE YOURSELF COUNT! Complete this quick Ash Wednesday survey

Image of Take the Ash Wednesday survey so we can better serve your needs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online is conducting a global survey on Ash Wednesday practices. Each reader is asked to participate once. The survey will take less than a minute to complete. The results of the survey will help Catholic Online determine how best to serve your needs in the ... continue reading


Santa Muerte gains popularity throughout Mexico - Will Pope Francis react during his visit? Watch

Image of Santa Muerte's popularity has spread throughout South America (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Despite the Catholic Church openly saying Santa Muerte is not recognized as a saint, the death saint continues to spread in popularity among Mexican citizens. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Santa Muerte is an absurdity," Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Mexico's ... continue reading


Bible-themed luxury resort to be built in San Diego? Watch

Image of Televangelist seeks to build Bible-themed resort (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Televangelist Morris Cerullo has been attempting to build a Bible-themed luxury resort for the past few years - and now there is only one more hurdle to jump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After purchasing a foreclosed Mission Valley hotel, Cerullo's plans for ... continue reading


What the Catholic Church should do about this new serious problem among the young Watch

Image of Deacon Flanigan confirmed that the recent surge in overdoses among young whites have been linked to controversial medical guidelines that called for a more aggressive approach to treating both acute and chronic pain.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register

When recent headlines marked a spike in drug overdoses for white, middle-class Americans, the news saddened but did not surprise Deacon Timothy Flanigan, an HIV specialist at Brown University medical school in Providence, R.I. Providence, R.I. (National ... continue reading


Pope Francis gives priests advice on being good confessors Watch

Image of

By CNA/EWTN News

Priests who are good confessors must recognize their own sins in order to forgive and comfort penitents, Pope Francis said one day before the start of the Lenten season. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - "I speak to you as a brother, and through you I would like to ... continue reading


POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE: Ash Wednesday (FULL TEXT: English) Watch

Image of

By Pope Francis, Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and good path of Lent!It is beautiful and also significant to have this hearing at this Ash Wednesday. We begin the journey of Lent, and we are reflecting today on the ancient institution of the "jubilee"; It is an ancient thing, ... continue reading


Pope Francis' message for Lent (FULL TEXT: ENGLISH) Watch

Image of

By Pope Franics, Vatican Radio

"I desire mercy, and not sacrifice" (Mt 9:13).The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee 1. Mary, the image of a Church which evangelizes because she is evangelizedIn the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I asked that "the season of Lent in ... continue reading


'There is nowhere else for us to go': Nuns who feed homeless face eviction after rent nearly doubles Watch

Image of Nuns who feed homeless were told to pay or leave (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The cost of living in San Francisco has skyrocketed to the point that and new reports indicate Bay Area housing has reached such heights that the area's average income can no longer support it. Unfortunately, this means everyone is downsizing or moving - including ... continue reading


The 'Martyred Country': Pope Francis' powerful words on Syria Watch

Image of Pope Francis led the crowds in praying the Hail Mary

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

The plight of Syrian civilians involved in the nation's ongoing conflict was at the heart of Pope Francis' appeal to the international community on Sunday, in an address where he also called for a renewed commitment to the protection of life at all stages. ... continue reading


POPE FRANCIS ANGELUS: February 7, 2016 (FULL TEXT: ENGLISH) Watch

Image of

By Pope Francis

Dear brothers and sisters, Goodmorning!The Gospel of this Sunday says - in the drafting of St. Luke - the call of the first disciples of Jesus ( Lk 5,1-11). The fact takes place in a context of everyday life: there are some fishermen on the shore of Lake Galilee, who, ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Deuteronomy 30:15-20
15 'Look, today I am offering you life and prosperity, death and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked and does not ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:22-25
22 He said, 'The Son of man is destined to suffer grievously, to be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 11th, 2016 Image

St. Paschal
February 11: Paschal was the son of Bonosus, a Roman. He ... Read More