Today is not a celebration honoring work.
All things considered, today should be renamed “Workers’ Day”.
Today is a celebration honoring people…
people who contribute to the strength and prosperity,
to the stability and well-being of this country….
people who work, not for profit, but for wages.
Profit has to do with gain.
If I can sell an item for a price greater than I paid to acquire it or manufacture it,
I have made a profit.
Wages have to do with money paid to workers for the labor, for the services they provide
according to a contract based on an agreed upon time frame
and/or on an agreed upon level of productivity
and/or on an agreed upon level of quality.
Today is a day to remind those who pay wages—
companies, institutions, governments—
to treat their workers well, to treat them fairly, to treat them with dignity,
to not take advantage of ignorance, or desperate circumstance.
People are more important than profits.
History shows us that there is a tendency to de-humanize workers,
to disregard their true value as persons deserving respect, care,
affirmation, appreciation, recognition, support.
They deserve and have a right to a reasonably safe and healthy environment.
They deserve and have a right to a just wage.
Workers are not objects to be used according to the needs, the wants and whims of employers.
Workers are not machines, mindless robots, and should not be treated as such.
Today is a national holiday.
This means that non-essential government employees are given the day off with pay.
Usually, but not always, non-government employers follow suit.
Again, this is a way to show appreciation for workers, for employees.
It is not a right. It is an act of benevolence.
It serves to promote and restore good will between workers and those who pay their wages.
As Catholics, as members of the Body of Christ,
we take advantage of this holiday
to do what many of us get a chance to do only on Sunday: we gather for the worship of God.
We freely choose to use this time to celebrate the Eucharist,
to participate in this great prayer of thanksgiving.
We take the time to remember, to think, to reflect,
to give our attention to matters of faith,
to give witness to the world as to what is of importance to us.
There are parallels here….especially when it comes to wages.
The wages of sin, as we hear in Sacred Scripture, is death.
Likewise, the wages of righteousness is life, more specifically, eternal life.
For their compensation, sinners receive eternal punishment in the fires of Gehenna.
The righteous, for their compensation, receive eternal happiness and peace
in the presence of God.
But God is not an employer and we are not hired employees.
God doesn’t have to be reminded to treat human beings properly…with dignity and respect.
God is creator and we are his creations.
As such we owe Him a debt of gratitude. If not for Him we would not be.
But God did not create us to be his minions, his underlings,
to do all the work that he finds undignified for someone of his loftiness.
God does not establish a contract with us and then pay us for the work we do.
God created us to be his sons and daughters.
By the fact that we exist we have access to and share in the family fortune so to speak.
But access is not unrestricted.
There are household rules regarding order, obedience, and getting along with siblings.
There are expectations of responsibility….obligations to live up to the family name.
God, however, is not obligated to pay us in exchange for the work we do.
We don’t earn heaven. Eternal happiness is not payment for a good life.
We inherit heaven. We inherit the Kingdom of God and all that’s in it.
Not because of a contract but because of a covenant….
an agreement between a God who is infinite and people who are finite;
an agreement between God who is perfect
and people who are imperfect;
an agreement between God who is all good
and people who, in their willfulness, succumb to the temptation of evil;
an agreement between God who has all and needs nothing
and people who are in great need of many things.
Eternal life is our baptismal birth-right.
In our freedom we can choose to accept it, to cherish it, to remain loyal to it,
or we can choose to foolishly squander it, sell it, abandon it, even deny it.
As children of God is there work for us to do? Yes!
It is the work of salvation; the work of Jesus Christ.
It is the work of doing the will of the Father.
Today we can ask ourselves:
am I contributing to the strength and prosperity,
to the stability and well-being of God’s Kingdom
as it exists on this earth?
We need to think about these things
so that we can establish and nurture a proper relationship with God.
Employees can walk away at the end of the day.
If we walk away from our spiritual family, we walk away from our spiritual inheritance.
Happy Workers’ Day brothers and sisters in Christ.
Enjoy the holiday.
Today’s prayer: “O Lord, as we celebrate this day, through Jesus Your Son, restore us to a right relationship with You. Restore to us the hope that choosing what is right and good contributes to good will and promotes the peace for which we so desperately long. We look forward to our inheritance day when we will be given an eternal share in Your glory. Amen!”
22nd Week in Ordinary Time
Today is not a celebration honoring work.