Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

5/1/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Work needs to be recovered as a good; an integral part of our human vocation and an invitation to participate in the ongoing work of the Lord Himself.

The Church rightly proclaims that the path to true freedom and flourishing is the Way of Jesus Christ.She also affirms that there is a dignity to all human work precisely because of the dignity of every human worker who is engaged in it. That worker is created in the Image and Likeness of God. That dignity was elevated to an even greater height through the Incarnation of Jesus, the Worker of Nazareth. On this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker we should reflect upon the creative and redemptive value of all human work, especially when joined to Christ the Worker.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/1/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: work, labor, Joseph the Worker, Incarnation, human work, Joseph the Worker, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - I am old enough to remember what used to happen on  May 1st, when many Communist Regimes paraded their weapons of destruction through the streets of many major cities in the Capitols of Nations held captive under the boot of Marxist oppression.

Sadly, the spectacle still continues in some Nations still captivated by atheistic Marxism or Maoism. They call it May Day and International Workers Day. The Marxists proclaimed that a worker paradise could be achieved through a counterfeit ideology which promised a new man and a new society without need for a Savior. They were wrong.

It was during that period of time, when Marxism had captured so many Nations in its errant ideology,  that the Catholic Church emphasized this Feast of Joseph the Worker. It was intended to make a prophetic statement, by exposing the lies of that false ideology and proclaiming a very different message concerning the dignity of work and the dignity of the worker.

The message was and still is the Gospel of Jesus Christ - the only truth which can liberate men, women and nations. The Church proclaims a different way than the false materialist ideologies of collectivism, whether they came from the left, as with Marxism, or from the right, as with National Socialism.

There are those who claim that National Socialism also comes from the "left" as well. Frankly, it is an academic exercise, of little value. Wherever these two false ideologies come from in political language, they both share a common foundational error and can never lead to authentic human freedom because they deny God or substitute a false god.
 
The Church rightly proclaims that the path to true freedom and flourishing is the Way of Jesus Christ. She also affirms that there is a dignity to all human work precisely because of the dignity of every human worker who is engaged in it. That worker is created in the Image and Likeness of God. That dignity was elevated to even greater heights through the Incarnation of Jesus, the Worker of Nazareth.

On this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker we should reflect upon the creative and redemptive value of all human work, especially when it is joined to Christ the Worker. Though the lies of Marxist totalitarianism hold less sway in this hour, other false ideologies have now entrapped cultures once infused with the Christian worldview. They continue to view work as primarily oriented toward the attainment of capital, rather than an essential part of the human vocation; having dignity precisely because of the dignity of the human person.

In the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, (Gaudium et Spes) the fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught this profoundly beautiful truth about the sacred humanity of Jesus, the meaning of our own lives and the dignity of work: 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.
(Gaudium et Spes #22)

The Catholic Catechism adds these insights, 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." (2 Thess. 3:10) 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)

In other words, a Christian understanding of human work views it through the lens of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. God Incarnate, Jesus the Christ, was a worker! The dignity of this God become Man thereby elevates the basic goodness of all human work.

The early Church Father Gregory Nazianzus expressed the implications of the Incarnation best when he insisted that "Whatever was not assumed was not healed!" Because the entire human experience was assumed by Jesus, work, as a part of that human experience, has now been transformed by Christ the worker!

As a child, Jesus learned from Joseph the Worker how to work with wood. He would later climb upon a wooden cross in order to re-create all humanity, making it new in the culmination of His great work of redemption. All of the work undertaken by Jesus was joined to His Heavenly Father's work. That is the same relationship we have with the Father now - through Him, with Him and in Him.

Though there is some biblical support that the toil and drudgery or "sweat" of work is connected to the fracture in the order of the universe occasioned by sin (see Gen 3:19), human work itself is not the punishment for sin.Work occurred before the Fall, in that Garden where our first parents lived in communion with God, one another and all creation.

Rather, for the Christian, all human work can become a participation in the continuing redemptive work of Jesus, when embraced with living faith and joined to His work. Jesus was always doing the work of the One who sent Him (John 9:3-4) and we are invited to now do the same in the work which is a part of our daily human existence.

The early Christians' worship became known as liturgy. The Greek word can be loosely translated work or duty. Liturgy is the work of the Church. For the early believers, the world was not a place to be avoided but became their workshop!

They were in the world in order to bring all men and women to the Font of Baptism and include them in the Body of Christ, the Church - where they were to participate in preparing the world for His return. The work of Jesus continues through His Body, the Church, now placed in creation as a seed of its very transfiguration.

The Paschal mystery, the saving life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, began a process of transformation not only in the followers of Jesus but also in the cosmos created through Him and for Him. It is being recreated in Him.

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

For the Christian, work is an invitation to participate in that plan or mystery. No matter what we are doing as work, we are admonished by the Apostle Paul to "do it as unto the Lord" (see Col 3). That choice, that exercise of our human freedom to treat work differently, places us in the position to receive the grace we need to view it and do it differently. It enables our work to change the world both within us and around us.

This way of viewing work includes all human work, not just what is sometimes viewed as the "spiritual stuff." God Incarnate, Jesus Christ, did not just do what is often called the "spiritual stuff." All human work sanctifies us - and changes the world around us.

St. Paul captures the hope of the fullness of redemption including all creation when, in the eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans he reminds us that all of creation "groans" for the full revelation of the sons and daughters of God.
 
We can have a new relationship to the entire created order beginning now by choosing to live by faith. We live in the Son, through whom and for whom, all was created and is being re-created. When we embrace our daily work with a mind renewed by the Holy Spirit, we begin to comprehend the plan and purpose of God.

That includes developing a truly Christian view of work.

In 1981 John Paul released an Encyclical letter entitled "On Human Work" which beautifully presents the Christian vision of the dignity of human work and the worker. In the introductory paragraph he wrote:

"(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 true 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 was 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, but 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 is the root of the contemporary culture of death and what Pope Francis calls the throwaway culture.

To grasp the truth that dignity of all human labor derives from the dignity of the human person who engages in it requires what St Paul rightly called a "renewal of the mind" (See, Romans 12:2). St.  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 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."

Work needs to be recovered as a good; an integral part of our human vocation and an invitation to participate in the ongoing work of the Lord Himself.

---


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


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More U.S.

Mexican drug cartels fueling U.S. heroin epidemic Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The insidious Mexican drug cartels are having a massively detrimental effect on U.S. communities. The cartels have flooded the cities and suburbs with far more potent, less expensive heroin, sending overdose deaths skyrocketing. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


African-American churches frequently targeted by arsonists Watch

Image of African American churches are targeted by arsons more than any other houses of worship. The ATF's results have been reported to a national database of church fires.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There have been 29 cases of churches being torched by arsonists in the United States this year alone. Frequently, African-American churches are set alight by arsonists because of racism, religious intolerance, or vandalism. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Anytime ... continue reading


Planned Parenthood threatened to be exposed with EIGHT MORE undercover videos Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The series of unfortunate events will keep on rolling for Planned Parenthood as the founder of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), David Daleiden, shared with conservative radio host Sean Hannity that there are eight more undercover videos that will reveal Planned ... continue reading


Remains of four early leaders of America uncovered in Jamestown with Catholic artifacts Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Under the floor of a Jamestown church, four body remains of the earliest English colonial leaders in America were unearthed. One was identified as Captain John Smith's rival, who researchers speculate to be part of a secret Catholic cell because of some artifacts ... continue reading


Planned Parenthood caught in FOURTH VIDEO showing the horrific practices of selling aborted baby organs

Image of Dr. Savita Ginde, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains' Vice President and Medical Director, standing in the harvesting lab.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Another new Planned Parenthood expose video has been released, making this the second video this week and the fourth revealing hidden camera video in total. The Center for Medical Progress claims to have hours upon hours of footage exposing Planned Parenthood of ... continue reading


AMC movie theaters issue warning to moviegoers urging them to stay vigilant during visit Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A unusual video message is being played at AMC Theaters in Central Florida, urging the audience to keep their eyes open to any bad agendas and malicious or suspicious actions within the establishment. The short film came to be after violent incidents inside movie ... continue reading


A massive 30,000 more immigrants expected to arrive to U.S. before year's end Watch

Image of Illegal immigrants continues to cross the U.S. border.q

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The number of illegal immigrant children and teens in the United States continues to increase. The United Nations and other humanitarian groups predict that a total of 30,000 more are expected to reach the U.S. before the year ends. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


The youngest convicted murders released from jail after 15 years Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At just 12 and 13-years-old, two siblings confessed to killing their father's girlfriend and both were charged with first-degree murder as adults, despite evidence they were sexually abused by a family member. Yesterday, the two first faced the world they once knew. ... continue reading


Satanic statue secretly unveiled in Detroit, drawing Christian protest Watch

Image of Satanists secretly unveiled a nine-foot, one-ton statue of Baphomet, the horned devil god of satanic practice in an undisclosed location in Detroit this past weekend.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Satanists secretly unveiled a nine-foot, one-ton statue of Baphomet, the horned devil god of satanic practice in an undisclosed location in Detroit this past weekend. This has spurred on heavy protest from the city's Christian community. Hundreds gathered at Detroit's ... continue reading


Will Pope Francis be warmly welcomed in the United States? Watch

Image of Pope Francis will be in the United States in September.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis will visit the United States for the first time ever in his lifetime during September. However, amid the excitement, the American populace may have lost some warmth towards the pontiff, who they once believed revived the Catholic Church in the country. ... 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, Leviticus 25:1, 8-17
1 Yahweh spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 7-8
2 Then the earth will acknowledge your ways, and all ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 14:1-12
1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 1st, 2015 Image

St. Alphonsus Marie Liguori
August 1: Bishop, Doctor of the Church, and the founder of the ... 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