Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

2/17/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The entire human experience was assumed by Jesus Christ, including our labor, our human work - no matter what form that human work takes.

Jesus did all things well. Do We? How do we view our daily work? How do we understand our own labor in the light of what the Catholic Church proclaims about the dignity of all human work, no matter what kind, because it is done by human persons created in the Image and Likeness of God.  It is time to examine human work in the light of the Gospel.Let us ask the Holy Spirit to renew our minds. Let us ask for the grace we need to begin to live this gospel or good news of work in the way in which we engage in all human labor. We are invited to receive work as a gift and invitation to participate in God's loving, creative and redemptive work. Christians need to bear witness to its value just as we bear witness to the inherent value and dignity of every human worker. We are also called to do it well.

Joseph the worker is a model for all of us.

Joseph the worker is a model for all of us.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/17/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: work, labor, St Joseph, Blessed John Paul, St Josemaria Escriva, perfection, holiness, sanctity, virtue, Christian character, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In the Gospel for Holy Mass on Friday, February 14, 2014 (Mark 7:31-37) recounts the miraculous healing of a deaf man. It ends with this powerful observation concerning Jesus, offered by those who witnessed the sign:  He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.

This line gave rise to some of the most beautiful reflections from St. Josemaría Escriva during his ministry. It shows up in many of his written works. In one of the most profound homilies I have ever heard or read, Passionately Loving the World  he reflected on the implications of this observation about Jesus - reminding us that in His Sacred humanity Jesus shows each one of us how we are to live our own lives. Through His saving life, passion, death and resurrection, Jesus also gives us the grace to rise to such a charge.

Jesus did all things well. Do We? How do we view our daily work? How do we understand our own labor in the light of what the Catholic Church proclaims about the dignity of all human work, no matter what kind, because it is done by human persons created in the Image and Likeness of God.  It is time to examine human work in the light of the Gospel.

During his last years, Blessed John Paul II addressed a gathering of leaders of the Catholic Action movement in Italy on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and spoke of what he called the gospel of work. The word gospel means good news. Do we consider our work as good news? Or is it something we do for a paycheck?

One of the late Pope's favorite passages from the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Role of the Church in the Modern World informed much of his writing and is worthy of consideration as we consider the dignity of work and the worker who engages in it:

The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown.

He who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin. (G.S. #22)


In 1981 John Paul released an Encyclical letter entitled On Human Work which presents an inspiring teaching on the Christian vision of the dignity of all human work, its true meaning and value, and the dignity of the worker who engages in it. In the introductory paragraph he defined the very word work:

(W)ork means any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very nature, by virtue of humanity itself. Man is made to be in the visible universe an image and likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth.

From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature.

We live in an age that has lost sight of the dignity of work - because we have lost sight of the dignity of the human worker. This loss is one more bad fruit of the rupture which is wrought by sin. In the industrial age, men and women were often reduced to mere instruments in a society that emphasized productivity over the dignity of the human person, the worker. The technological age promised something different. However, it has failed to deliver on that promise.

Too often, men and women are still viewed as instruments and objects rather than persons and gifts. Even Science - a great gift meant to be placed at the service of the human person, human flourishing, the family and the common good - has often promoted a view of the human person as an object to be experimented on and disposed of at will. This fundamental error lies at the root of the contemporary culture of death and use. 

We need what St Paul rightly called a renewal of the mind (See, Romans 12:2) to begin to rediscover the dignity of all work and the challenge given to us, to do it well. Blessed John Paul told the participants at that Catholic Action gathering that because "work has been profaned by sin and contaminated by egoism," it is an activity that "needs to be redeemed." His words are critical in this hour.

He reminded them that Jesus was a man of work and that work enabled him to develop his humanity". He emphasized that "the work of Nazareth constituted for Jesus a way to dedicate himself to the 'affairs of the Father,'" witnessing that "the work of the Creator is prolonged" through work and that therefore "according to God's providential plan, man, by working, realizes his own humanity and that of others: In fact, work 'forms man and, in a certain sense, creates him.

He emphasized the need for work to be rescued "from the logic of profit, from the lack of solidarity, from the fever of earning ever more, from the desire to accumulate and consume." When the focus of work becomes subjected to what he called "inhuman wealth", he said, it becomes a "seductive and merciless idol." That rescue occurs when we "return to the austere words of the Divine Master: 'For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?'"

Finally, John Paul II reminded them that Jesus, the "Divine Worker of Nazareth" also reminds all of us that 'life is more than food' and that work is for man, not man for work. What makes a life great is not the entity of gain, nor the type of profession, or the level of the career. Man is worth infinitely more than the goods he produces or possesses."

The Catholic Catechism instructs us:

Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: "If anyone will not work, let him not eat.Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.

In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work..... Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and beneficiary. By means of his labor man participates in the work of creation. Work united to Christ can be redemptive.
(See,CCC # 2247 et.seq.)

A Catholic vision of work views it in light of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ: God became a human person, a worker! The early Church Father, Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus), reflecting on the Incarnation, proclaimed "Whatever was not assumed was not healed!" The insight is profound and has the potential to revolutionize the way we view our own work!

The entire human experience was assumed by Jesus Christ, including our labor, our human work - no matter what form that human work takes. It was transformed by Christ the worker! The Son of God worked. Even as a child he learned from Joseph, the carpenter, and worked with wood, with His Holy hands. Certainly he sweated, got dirty and even experienced tedium at times, but because He was in communion with His Heavenly Father all of his work was joined to the Father's work.

That is the same relationship we now have with the Father through our Baptism into Christ. Certainly, this Jesus, whom who the author of Hebrews said "knew no sin" was not suffering its punishment when he engaged in that manual labor in the workshop of Nazareth! Though there is biblical support that the drudgery or "sweat" of work is connected to the fracture in the order of the universe occasioned by sin (see Gen 3:19).

However work itself was NOT the punishment for sin. We need to be absolutely clear about this. Adam and Eve worked in the garden and it brought them great joy. For the Christian, work is meant to become a participation in the continuing redemptive mission of Jesus. Jesus viewed his entire life and mission as work. He was always doing the work of the One who sent Him (John 9:3-4). We are invited by grace to live in the same way.

The early Christians knew the dignity of all human work. Even their early worship became known as liturgy which literally means the work of the Church. For them, the real world was not a place to be avoided - it was their workshop! They were there to bring all of its inhabitants to Baptism and inclusion in Christ and then prepare the real world for His Real return, through their prayer, their witness, their worship and their work.

The Incarnation, the saving Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, the Paschal mystery - began a process of transformation- not only in His followers, but also in the cosmos created through Him and for Him. In fact, creation is now being re-created in Him. The work of Jesus' redemption continues through the Church - which is placed in that creation as a seed of its transfiguration.

This view is part of what St. Paul calls the plan and a mystery of God, to bring all things together under heaven and on earth in Christ (see, e.g. Eph 1: 9-10). All things were created in Christ (see Col 1:15-20), and are now being re-created as His work continues through His Body, the Church, of which we are members.

For the Christian, work is an invitation to participate in this extraordinary plan - when it is joined to Jesus Christ. No matter what we are doing we are, as the Apostle wrote, to "do it as unto the Lord" (see Col 3). Our work then changes the world, both within us and around us. This means all work - not just the so called spiritual or religious stuff, has redemptive value.

Remember, Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, did not just do what we too often think of as the spiritual stuff during his earthly ministry. This mistaken notion of separating out the spiritual and the real often displays in us a failure to grasp the meaning of the Incarnation. All human work is holy when it is done in the Lord. Like Jesus, may it be said of each of us that we do all things well.  

St. Paul captured the hope of all creation when, in the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans he reminded us that all of creation groans for the full revelation of the sons and daughters of God. We can have a new relationship with the entire created order - beginning now- because we live in the Son, through whom and for whom it was all created and is now being re-created.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to renew our minds. Let us ask for the grace we need to begin to live this gospel or good news of work in the way in which we engage in all human labor. We are invited to receive work as a gift and invitation to participate in God's loving, creative and redemptive work. Christians need to bear witness to its value just as we bear witness to the inherent value and dignity of every human worker. We are also called to do it well.

---


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


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Statue of Blessed Father Junipero Serra safe - for now at U.S. capitol Watch

Image of State legislatures have the authority to decide which two statues will represent their state at the U.S. Capitol.

By CNA/EWTN News

An effort to remove the statue of Bl. Junipero Serra from the U.S. Capitol has been set aside for the time being. Los Angeles (CNA/EWTN News) - A statue of Franciscan missionary and saint-to-be Father Junipero Serra has stood in the U.S. Capitol since 1931. However, a ... continue reading


On this Fourth of July, We Need a Declaration of Dependence Watch

Image of The real promise of the Declaration of the Declaration of Independence now cries out for those who believe in its promise to stand up for its true meaning and work to restore the unique experiment in ordered liberty which it offers for future generations.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Declaration of Independence was the birth certificate of the United States of America, a Nation often called the American Experiment because of the very fact that it was founded upon principles. The words are still memorized by schoolchildren and can bring a ... continue reading


Learning from the Wonderful Witness of 'Doubting' Thomas Watch

Image of Thomas the doubter became the Thomas the model believer, an example for each one of us. He is a great beacon of light for all of us as we cry out with him, MY LORD AND MY GOD!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

What conclusion, dear brethren, do you come to? Surely it was not by chance that this chosen disciple, was missing in the first place? Or that on his return he heard, that hearing he doubted, that doubting he touched, and that touching he believed? It was by ... continue reading


Catholic Church in U.S. has weathered adversity before - and will emerge triumphant, historian says Watch

Image of As bishops warn of current threats to religious liberty in the United States, Catholics can take heart that such challenges have faced them before, and they have persevered, one Church historian says.

By Matt Hadro, CNA/EWTN News

As bishops warn of current threats to religious liberty in the United States, Catholics can take heart that such challenges have faced them before, and they have persevered, one Church historian says. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - "It's okay to realize that ... continue reading


After same-sex unions legalized, polygamous Montana trio demands same Watch

Image of The 46-year-old Nathan Collier owns a refrigeration business in Billings. He married 40-year-old Victoria in 2000. His second wife, Christine, was wed in a religious wedding ceremony in 2007 without a marriage license in order to avoid bigamy charges.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was bound to happen. After the Supreme Court ruled same-sex unions legal in all 50 states, other proponents of non-traditional arrangements are clamoring for equality under the law. Nathan Collier, along with his wives Victoria and Christine have applied at ... continue reading


350-pound dolphin accidentally lands on cruise ship severely injuring woman Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

To kick off the summer break and celebrate Father's day, a family went aboard a cruise that ended with a traumatizing accident. As the cruise started to sail back to the harbor, a group of dolphins started to swim alongside the boat. However, as the passengers started ... continue reading


Episcopalians overwhelmingly vote to let same-sex weddings in churches Watch

Image of Episcopalians voted overwhelmingly this week to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Episcopalians voted overwhelmingly this week to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples. The Episcopal Church has long been on the forefront of equal rights for homosexuals, ever since electing it first openly gay bishop 10 years ago.  LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


TERROR LEAK: ISIS learns of FBI command centers across U.S. for Fourth of July Watch

Image of One such likely ISIS candidate, 23-year-old Alaa Saadeh, was believed to be part of a group interested in detonating a pressure cooker bomb at a New York landmark.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It appears that an important bit of counter-terrorism may have landed into the wrong hands. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI is installing command centers around the nation to prepare for possible terror attacks for the coming Fourth of July holiday ... continue reading


Remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan 'feel forgotten' Watch

Image of Several US Troops felt abandoned and forgotten by the US government

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A total of 10,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan. These troops believe they have been forgotten by the Obama administration, as the US Government shifts its attention to ISIS. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The US Troops, 10,000 men and women left ... continue reading


Risk for massive earthquake in California increases as scientists find dangerous helium coming from fault zone Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Researchers recently discovered helium leaking from a giant fault in the Earth's crust near Los Angeles, as well as discovering an increase in chance for California to have an 8.0 magnitude earthquake. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - They did not expect the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 28:10-22
10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 3-4, 14-15
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:18-26
18 While he was speaking to them, suddenly one of the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 6th, 2015 Image

St. Maria Goretti
July 6: Born in Corinaldo, Ancona, Italy, on October 16 1890; her ... 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