Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time (Labor Day)

(Colossians 1:24-2:3; Luke 6:6-11)

Aldi’s supermarkets feature low-cost food and fast, friendly service. When asked if the stores would be open on Labor Day, an attendant happily reported “no” Aldi’s stores are closed every holiday and employees are paid for the day off. If we think of Labor Day as an extension of the Sunday rest, we might ask whether the supermarkets’ board of directors have an ally in Jesus.

In the gospel today Jesus defies the scribes and Pharisees who absolutely reject any work on the Sabbath. He presents himself as God’s agent who comes to restore creation to its original goodness. Because correcting physical malady falls under the scope of that restoration, Jesus argues that it cannot be prohibited. This reasoning is hardly legal fancy-footing but represents a commonsense approach to a conundrum created by dedicating a specific day of the week to rest.

The happy coincidence of reading this gospel passage on Labor Day provides additional opportunity to reflect on the nature of work. We work in order to live, but also to create a better society. On the other hand, rest is necessary to replenish energy and to recognize that there are higher purposes in life than making money and shopping. Regular Sunday worship and relaxation serve these exalted purposes. With or without government mandating that everyone do so, we are wise to curb gainful activity on Sundays in favor of faith, family, and even some fun.