Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

9/1/2014 (2 months 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 (2 months 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'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Living Faith

Two bishops dine and dialogue with peace activists

Image of War doesn't decide who is right, just who is left.

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops fall assembly in Baltimore, two bishops decided to forego the military chaplains dinner sponsored by the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office, and attended instead a simple supper and discussion on peacemaking. On the evening of ... continue reading


'God always forgives, but the earth does not,' Pope warns Watch

Image of The Pope urged the world's leaders to rein in their greed and help the hungry.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A doomsday scenario in which Mother Nature would exact her revenge is possible, even likely, Pope Francis warns. The pontiff was speaking out against the exploitation of natural resources for profit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pope urged the world's ... continue reading


Pope Francis' special message: Why Poverty? 'And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain, at the street corner, We ask for dignity, not for charity.'

Image of When we give our loaves and fishes to Christ, there is no end to the Good that can come from it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has asked the world to do more to help those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Despite gains made in infrastructure and outpourings of food, too many people with plenty have done too little to help. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With ... continue reading


How do you raise a good, upstanding child? With daily prayers, weekly church attendance and the knowledge of God Watch

Image of Billy Graham, now 96, has reached out to millions with his joyous words of the truth of God and Jesus Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Billy Graham, the world famous television evangelist and founder and chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has said that the reason the world seems to be in such dire straits is that children are not being raised right. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Learning Lessons for Life from Zaccheus and that Sycamore Tree Watch

Image of Zaccheus climbed that tree in order to see the Lord, not to be seen by Jesus. He did not care what the crowd thought of a grown man climbing a tree! He went after the encounter with Jesus Christ with a childlike simplicity and a reckless abandon. Do we?

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Sycamore tree created a clear line of vision for Zaccheus. It helped him to rise above the crowd and see the Lord clearly. It placed him in the right position for the invitation that would follow. Jesus told him to come down for he was coming to his house! ... continue reading


Jesus Weeps and Calls us to Recognize His Visitation Watch

Image of The Cross, an instrument of torture, will become the sign of peace, for those who find their refuge under its shadow and embrace the One who stretches out His arms to embrace the whole world. There Jesus will deal definitively with the great enemy of peace, the sin which impedes it in each of our lives. With tenderness He looks out from the Mount of Olives and sees the Holy City of Jerusalem. How he loves that City. Then, Jesus weeps. He knows the City will soon be overtaken and destroyed by the armies of Titus. He weeps the tears of Love and cries compassion from His Sacred Heart

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus shows His disciples - and He shows us us, because we are His disciples in this hour - the pattern of living in a continual communion with the Father. He invites them - and He invites us - into this very communion of love which He has with the Father, in the ... continue reading


Children deserve both father and mother, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that

By CNA/EWTN News

Children have the right to be raised by a mother and a father, Pope Francis said, emphasizing that "the family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation." Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope made these remarks on Nov. 17 at ... continue reading


Here are 10 Very Interesting Facts About the Catholic Church You Probably Didn't Know! Watch

Image of Pope Francis commands the world's smallest professional army.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How much do you know about the Catholic Church? Here are 10 fun facts you might not know. See how many you know and post your result in the comments! 1.    Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world! With a population around 500 people and a ... continue reading


Study: Latin Americans abandoning Catholic Church for evangelical, Protestant churches Watch

Image of Protestants now make up 19 percent of the Latin American population, while another eight percent now profess no religious affiliation, a figure reaching 37 percent in Uruguay.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Catholic Church is losing members in Latin America at an increasing rate. According to the Pew research Center, many Latin Americans are leaving the church for Pentecostal, Protestant churches. There is even a growing number of Latin Americans who now ... continue reading


Living Faith: Learning How to See from a Blind Man Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The people to whom we are introduced in the Gospel accounts have been selected from among many others who encountered Jesus - for a real purpose. They can put us in touch with the Lord, with ourselves, and with the meaning of our own lives.Through prayerful ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 10:8-11
8 Then I heard the voice I had heard from heaven ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
14 In the way of your instructions lies my joy, a joy ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 19:45-48
45 Then he went into the Temple and began driving out ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 21st, 2014 Image

St. Gelasius
November 21: St. Gelasius I, Pope (Feast day - November 21) Gelasius was born ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter