Monday and Tuesday, October 2-3,2017

Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels

(Zechariah 8:1-8; Matthew 18:1-5.10)

An anecdote about St. Thomas Aquinas may help us understand what Jesus is trying to convey in today’s gospel.  Whenever Thomas was to make a presentation, he went to the chapel and prayed.  He said more than a “Hail Mary”; rather, he spent a considerable time asking God’s assistance in his effort.  Here one of the greatest intellects in history petitions God’s help as if he were a little child begging his father to give him a puppy.

Jesus is telling his disciples that being so suppliant is the best way to approach God.  By referring to “angels in heaven” he is saying that God is ready to help His people with their every need.  But, he would add, the people must open themselves to the Father’s love.

This is no easy task today.  We live in a world that prides itself on competence.  Often we don’t want to admit that we need help.  We think that we can do anything worth doing by ourselves.  Never mind that this isn’t true; it is also wasting our energy by ignoring God’s graciousness.  Thomas Aquinas knew better.  As always, we have a lot to learn from him.

Tuesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

(Zechariah 8:21-23; Luke 9:51-56)

No doubt Jerusalem is one of the most visited cities of the world. Christians and Muslims as well as Jews recognize it as a holy place where God has spoken to humans.  The prophecy that Zechariah makes in today’s first reading has evidently been fulfilled.  Inhabitants of many cities want to go up to Jerusalem to seek God’s favor.  But it was not always this way.

The gospel relates an incident in Jesus’ life when Samaritans not only refused to go to Jerusalem but did not want to deal with anyone going there.  Jesus seems more disturbed by his disciples’ intolerance than by the Samaritans’.  He chastises James and John for their desire to violently punish the Samaritans.  They have been with him a good while now and should have known better.

The name Jerusalem actually means in Hebrew “city of peace.” We should look forward not just to visiting but to residing there.  For it is more than a place of prayer; it is a symbol of heaven.   In the sense that we seek eternal peace with Christ at death we want to go up to Jerusalem.  To this end we must remember Jesus’ censure of violence.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

(Daniel 7:9-10.13-14; John 1:47-51)

An author was comparing a career to a vocation.  He said that one pursues a career to make money or to become famous.  A vocation, he went on, is not something that we choose but what we are called to do.  Then he listed the many ways different people have experienced a vocation.  Some, he said, feel called in reading a book and others in being at a certain place at a certain time.  He mentioned that some sense being called by God, as if God were just one of many ways that things happen.

This is not what we believe.  We say that God is the author of any real call and that He has any number of ways to make his call known.  The word angel is a one way among many to express how God acts.  Pope St. Gregory the Great made this explicit in a famous sermon.  He said that angels are by nature pure spirits.  They become angels only when God calls them to deliver a message on His behalf.

As God’s agents, angels are benign creatures.  We can thank God for their assistance.  Indeed, the purpose of today’s feast is to praise God who helps us in our every need.  We call on God in sickness and He sends one like Raphael, whose name means God’s remedy to heal us.  We call to God in our weakness and He sends Michael, whose name means like God, to protect us against evil.  And in our sinfulness we call to God, and He sends Gabriel, whose name means God’s strength to announce the coming of Jesus, our Savior.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

(Haggai 1:1-8; Luke 9:7-9)

Twenty years ago the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was building its new cathedral with a price tag of $300 million. A group of lay Catholics who worked with the very poor were outraged by the amount and actively protested the construction.  With prophetic boldness they claimed the new cathedral was a needless extravagance.  Confident that the Church was caring sufficiently for the poor in the area, the archbishop proceeded with the building project.

We hear of a similar tug-a-war between spending on social needs and constructing a monument to God in the reading from the prophet Haggai today.  In this case, the prophet also takes the side of construction.  He speaks out what he hears God telling him: concentrating on satisfying human desires has rendered scant benefit to the people.  He emphasizes that now is the time to focus on life’s chief priority – a faithful relationship with God which the Temple promotes.  He might add that other needs such as assistance to the poor will fall in order and be readily met.

Interesting, economists have verified the strategy of spending money on social projects like a Temple in times of recession.  It provides jobs for people which stimulate consumer spending and the creation of wealth.  Building a temple or a church will also remind us to keep our priorities straight.  First we give God His due and then take care of other needs.  God will see that no one is left wanting.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, priest

(Ezra 9:5-9; Luke 9:1-6)

In a book on character development author David Brooks comments on the essentials of being a good person.  Humility to recognize one’s mistakes is necessary, he says, along with a firm desire to change one’s defective ways.  This process is seen taking shape in today’s first reading from the Book of Ezra.

The book describes the exiled Jews’ return to Jerusalem and their rebuilding the Temple.  In the passage read today Ezra reflects on what went wrong to begin with.  He recognizes his people’s great sins which are known from the words of past prophets.  The people idolized money, neglected the poor, and became proud in their sinfulness.  As the text indicates, they had to be taken down many notches if they were ever going to be God’s people.  The reading claims that the period of chastisement is over.  God has shown the people mercy.  They can start anew on the quest of holiness.

We might see a similar trajectory in the life of St. Vincent de Paul.  After his ordination he was chaplain to the queen of France and recipient of revenues from a small monastery.  Eventually he became aware of the plight of peasants.  He quit his ministries to the upper crust to become a pastor to the poor.  From then on he founded institutions and indeed religious congregations to assist those in need.  He became a saint in both a religious and secular sense.  His life was characterized by virtue and his friendship with God solid.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezra 6:7-8.12b.14-20; Luke 8:19-21)

Today’s gospel might be read as a corrective of an impression given in the parallel passage of Mark’s gospel.  The latter gospel has Jesus asking, “’…who are my mother and brothers?’” The question makes one think that Jesus may be denying Mary’s role in his life.  By omitting the question, Luke implies something very different of Mary’s relationship to Jesus.

In both Mark and Luke Jesus proclaims that are those who do the will of God comprise his family.  Luke is somewhat more expressive.  He quotes Jesus as saying his mother and brother “are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”  At the beginning of Luke’s gospel, Mary is the first to do just that.  She willingly accepts the angel’s message that she is to be the mother of the Savior.  Likewise, she makes haste to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth when the angel mentions the latter’s miraculous pregnancy. 

But the thrust of today’s passage is not so much Mary’s being named a disciple of Jesus as those sitting around him being designated his brothers and sisters.  We may include ourselves in that hppy family.  But first we must, like Mary, listen to the word of God with our hearts and act on it with our lives.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezra 1:1-6; Luke 8:16-18)

In the 1950s and 1960s civil rights activists sang, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”  They saw themselves as small beams of light in the ongoing struggle with the darkness of racial bigotry and prejudice.  The song, written in the early part of the last century, recalls Jesus’ words of the gospel today.

Jesus wants his disciples to understand that they have been chosen to reflect the light of God’s grace.  Christianity is not a private religion in the sense that Jesus’ followers might pray on Sunday and be indifferent to their neighbors on Monday.  Quite the contrary, Christian prayer should lead to action on behalf of the needy.

There is a story about a Quaker prayer meeting once attended by a non-member.  As their habit, the Quakers were sitting in quiet meditation which discomforted the guest.  The guest turned to the Quaker sitting at his side and whispered, “When does the service begin?”  The Quaker responded, “The service begins as soon as the prayer ends!”  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Timothy 6:2c-12; Luke 8:1-3)

A cartoon shows a fat corporate executive describing a recent business decision.  “It was a matter,” he says, “of either losing a friend or losing money.”  No doubt is left as to which of the two the tycoon values more. 

However, the New Testament repeatedly indicates that money makes a poor friend.  In Luke’s gospel Jesus often warns against the accumulation of wealth although, as today’s passage indicates, he and his disciples had needs which the women’s money met.  Perhaps Scripture is nowhere more wary of money than in the first reading.  We should note, however, that First Timothy does not condemn money itself as the root of evil but “the love of money.”  

Should charities accept money from patently sinful sources?  Much good can be done with so-called tainted money, but then virtue’s kissing vice leaves many people morally bewildered.  Scandal must be avoided, but at times thieves may make reparation for their crimes by privately reciprocating institutions that care for the needy.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Feast of Saint Matthew, apostle and evangelist

(Ephesians 4:1-7.11-13; Matthew 9:9-13)

Sometime near the year 90 of the Lord a man we know as Matthew wrote his gospel.  He took the Gospel according to Mark, a book of sayings that was being circulated among first century Christians, and his own sources to form a testimony to Jesus Christ.  It would enlighten his community somewhere in Syria regarding its mission.

The end of the first century was a time of profound change in the Christian world.  The Jews had reorganized after the destruction of the Temple twenty years earlier.  They could no longer tolerate Christians in their midst.  Christians as a result were more apostolic than ever.  They were founding their communities now more than ever in Gentile and not in Jewish areas.  By ending with Jesus’s sending his disciples to all the nations of the world, Matthew’s gospel reflects this change of concentration. 

Today’s passage indicates how a shift of emphasis was part of Jesus’ historical mission.  The tax collector Matthew was not the author of the gospel although it is possible that he provided some of its source material.  In any case he is an outsider because he is considered an extortionist and collaborator with the Roman oppressors of the Jewish people.  Nevertheless, Jesus calls him to become his disciple to the complete chagrin of the narrow-minded Pharisees.  He too must repent of any sins he has committed, but he should not be labelled as unfit just because he collected taxes.  Jesus calls us as well.  We must turn from our sinful ways, especially those which despise immigrants and other socially shunned groups. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, martyrs

(I Timothy 3:14-16; Luke 7:31-35)

Today the Church honors the first Korean martyr-saints.  Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions gave their lives in witness for their faith in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Andrew Kim was Korea’s first native priest, but most of the people canonized with him were lay women and men.  In today’s gospel Jesus foretells the glory of such heroic people.

He is seen trying to explain why people are not repenting of their egoistic ways.  He says that they have been approached in two very different ways.  John the Baptist came to them as a fire and brimstone preacher.  His ascetic life was meant to convert people from their rather exclusive self-concern.  Jesus himself is preaching the love of God for all people including the worse of sinners.  Yet people still will not open their hearts.  Almost in exasperation he says, “Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”  He means that not only John and himself but also the many martyrs to follow will demonstrate the wisdom of repentance.  They will be glorified in heaven while those who refuse to love others will suffer want.

We live in a narcissistic time. Facebook and other social communication foster egotism and minimize the value of concern for neighbor.  Those who vaunt themselves can hardly be called true followers of the Lord.  While those who die to themselves for the sake of God will find themselves sitting with Jesus and the martyrs in glory.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Corinthians 12:12-14.27-31a; Luke 7:11-17)

"Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light."

Poet Dylan Thomas conveys the absolute unacceptability of death. It breaks up our relationships as well as separates our bodies and souls. As one reverend termed it, "Death is THE enemy." Jesus addresses himself to the culprit in today's gospel.

While the widow grieves the loss of her only son, Jesus takes compassion. It is notable that he does not attempt to console her by saying God will provide or by assuring that her son now knows a greater peace. Rather he restores her son to her alive and whole. As the prodigal father says of his formerly wayward son, he was dead and has come back to life.

The faithful know that the sainted dead live on in God’s love, but they should realize that this state is not the fullness of our hope in Christ.  No, we humans –consummate bodily creatures all – look forward to the resurrection of our bodies when we will live in light and beauty.  And if we are now disfigured by disease or even our own compulsions, will we have to feel at loss forever?  No, Christ’s calling us from the dead will give perfect form to each of our bodies.  It is truly an end to prepare for.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 7:1-10)

Persecutions in the early Church were evidently not as severe and as frequent as sometimes thought.   Historians say the Romans were generally lax about religious laws.  They only insisted that people pay respect to the Roman gods without necessarily abandoning their own.  Of course, Christians would not acknowledge the existence of other gods and were persecuted when politically expedient. Today’s first reading indicates the early Christian desire to exist in peace with Rome. 

Paul, or perhaps his disciple, exhorts Christians to pray for those in authority.  His intention is to have them avoid persecution as much as possible.  It is not to be a prayer for show but a testimony to God’s will for universal salvation.  The gospel likewise has this in mind as it shows Jesus praising the faith of a Roman officer.

Some may find it unnecessary today to pray for the salvation of non-Christians given Vatican II’s acknowledgment that one following his or her conscience will be saved.  However, Pope Benedict offered some insight when he asked the poignant question: Can people be saved if they convert their opinions and desires into norms of conscience so that they do anything they wish?  No, such salvation is doubtful.  The world desperately needs the saving truth of Jesus as a guide to the world.  Even if not all embrace belief in his divinity, the world needs his light.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

(I Timothy 1:1-2.12-14; John 19:25-27)

When the son of an eighty-plus year-old man died, the father said that it was hard to describe the loss he felt.  Every day his son used to call him at noon.  With the son’s death noontime, like a bell without a clapper, rang completely hollow.  No doubt Mary feels some of this grief at the cross.  Far from glorying in her son’s triumph over sin, she experiences the emptying of her soul with his.

In the gospel Jesus entrusts his mother to his beloved disciple.  The act not only guarantees her welfare but in a more profound way represents the beginning of the Church.  Mary will form the heart of the community by both remembering Jesus’ earliest days and telling the significance of his mission.

Many old men and women sit alone in apartments and nursing homes.  Their physical needs may be provided for, but they long to hear the voices of people who care about them.  We can never replace a son or daughter who is no longer or perhaps never was there for them.  But like the beloved disciple to Mary, we may provide them some consolation.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

(Numbers 21:4b-9; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17)

Beholding jeweled crosses and hearing how perfect the cross is as geometric design, we have difficulty contemplating its scandal for early Christians.  It is said that people mocked the first followers of Jesus when they found out that he was nailed to a cross.  We might as easily chide a teenager today for idolizing a rock star.  In Jesus’ day crucifixion was the basest of punishments the state imposed because it entailed the most gruesome suffering.  We do not consider it an alternative form of execution today precisely because it comprises “cruel and unusual punishment.”  Yet the cross is the instrument by which Christ won our salvation. 

The gospel today curiously does not mention the cross.  It merely states that those who believe in Jesus “lifted up” will be saved.  In the Gospel of John Jesus is lifted up twice – first on the cross and then in the resurrection.  Either time when we look on him with faith, we find ourselves in the magnetic field of salvation.

However, faith is more than paying lip service that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.  Faith indicates our willingness to make sacrifices for his sake.  But the cross in its utter barbarity, as much as the resurrection in its sheer magnificence, indicates that faith in Christ, and not in the quality or quantity of our works, brings salvation.  As when we were little children with nothing to repay our relatives for the gifts they brought us at Christmas, we cannot earn eternal life.  We can only say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you” for his death on the cross.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church

(Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 6:20-26)

Christians in the West may not know St. John Chrysostom, but within Orthodoxy he is more famous than St. Augustine.  There are similarities between the two.  Neither grew up Christian, and both studied rhetoric as young men.  Both became bishops although Augustine’s diocese was backwater while John’s see was the imperial city of Constantinople.

John was both an eloquent preacher (Chrysostom means golden mouth) and an outspoken social critic.  He had little patience with imperial protocol and openly appealed to the wealthy to assist the needy before adorning a church.  In a famous sermon he said, "Give (Christ) he honor prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.”

John Chrysostom actually echoes both readings today.  The Letter to the Colossians admonishes: “’Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.”   In the gospel Jesus is much more emphatic as he tells his disciples: “Blessed are you who are poor…But woe to you who are rich.’” He does not mean to say that the rich are damned only that to find their salvation they must help those in need.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(Colossians 2:6-15; Luke 6:12-19)

Gnosticism may very well be the “empty, seductive philosophy” mentioned in today’s passage from the Letter to the Colossians.  This ancient practice held that spiritual creation is inherently good while material creation is evil.  Consequently, according to Gnostics, the body is corrupt and concern for the body, trivial.  Nevertheless, some followers engaged in promiscuous sexual activity with the justification that the best way of showing contempt for the body is to flout the rules of morality. 

The Letter to the Colossians looks to Christ as the way through such charming ideas.  His salvific death on the cross confirms the value of the body.  More than that, it unites Jew and Greek by providing a common forgiveness of sins.  It liberates the former from the guilt of failing to fulfill exactly the letter of the Law and the latter from sexual libertinism.

The Letter urges its readers, which includes us, to hold on to the faith.  In ancient times, perhaps no less than today, there were many spinoffs of apostolic teaching.  Yet the Church remains its true interpreter.  We can take pride in leaders like the recent popes who are so kind, learned, and diligent.  But even when Church officials leave us embarrassed, the Holy Spirit assures that its teachings chart for us the course of salvation.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

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

When I was told that my distant cousins had a baby using in vitro fertilization, I was disappointed.  I wondered if they knew of the Church teaching condemning the practice.  Nevertheless, I went to their home for a visit.  Seeing their baby girl, how could I help but bless her?  This is the kind of reception that the scribes and Pharisees lack in today’s gospel.

The scribes and Pharisees become enraged when Jesus heals a fellow child of Abraham of his debilitating defect.  Where they should have at least some elation for the person who now has two hands to work, they only feel rancor for Jesus.  Theirs may be a legitimate way of interpreting the commandment not to work on the Sabbath, but it is hardly a definitive judgment.  No matter, they still lack the love of God in their hearts.

The Church has judged negatively some scientific breakthroughs that society acclaims.  It does so not because the Church is opposed to science but because often these advances are made to the detriment of other human beings.  Using human embryos for scientific experimentation is but one example.  It means the annihilation of a human life.  Yes, we hope to see cures for systemic bodily defects.  But we must insist that the cost of such advances not include the loss of human life or dignity. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(1 Micah 5:1-4a or Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 1:1-16.18-23)

Today’s celebration of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary underscores an important principle of faith.  Each of us is born for a purpose.  We share with Mary the vocation to know, love, and serve God.  But also like Mary, each of us has a singular call in life.  Hers was to be the mother of the Savior.  Ours is something else.

We should think of our vocation as dynamic.  We are to discern God’s call through our imagination, experience, and abilities as well as prayer.  What is more, we will usually find that it is a complex calling.  We are likely to be a salesman–father or a teacher-mother.  In my case, I am a priest-teacher.   Again, we have to find our purpose by probing and seeing, questioning and listening, asking and thinking.  

It’s important as well that once we decide on our purpose, we stick to it.  If we discern a vocation to be a nurse, then we are to take the appropriate classes and do the necessary study.  Although there may be the possibility of a change of careers, some determinations we make are permanent.  Those who see themselves as married should realize that this vocation lasts until death.  So as always we need to make the best discernments possible.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thursday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(I Corinthians 3:18-23; Luke 5:1-11)

A witness in the process of canonization of St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, testified that the saint never became agitated or angry.  Even on arduous journeys, Paul of Venice said, Dominic “was always happy in tribulations and patient in adversities.”  This note regarding another saint may help us appreciate the holiness of Simon Peter in the gospel today.

Simon must feel tired and frustrated as he returns from a long night of fishing without catching anything.  We might think of the writer who spends hours before her computer before realizing that she has typed nothing worth saving.  Or Simon now may be compared to the farmer who comes home to find his garden completely ruined by raccoons.  Simon may want to swear and certainly needs to rest before considering his next outing.  When Jesus at that moment tells him to put out to sea and lower the nets again, he may want to explode saying, “What do you know about fishing?”  But instead Simon tells the Lord calmly what took place during the night and does as Jesus commands.  The result is a catch so stupendous that Simon does not think twice about changing his life’s course to follow Jesus.

Where Jesus is leading us is demonstrated in today’s first reading.  Paul or one of his disciples writes that followers of Christ exhibit endurance, patience, joy, and thanksgiving. With practice we can develop these virtues.  They will bring much fruit – not only peace to us but even more followers to Christ. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(Colossians 1: 1-8; Luke 4:38-44)

People speak of the “power of prayer” as if it can tumble mountains.  But prayer has never seemed to be explosive energy as much as an integrative force.   It brings order and peace to the person by acknowledging God as Father whose love overcomes all evil.  Jesus seems aware of this benefit of prayer in today’s gospel.

In Mark’s gospel Jesus is pictured as praying by himself only twice – once on the side of a mountain and then in Gethsemane.  In Luke’s gospel, which we will read almost daily from now until December, Jesus is continually going off to pray.  In the passage read today he gets up early to pray alone in a quiet place.  It is as if he daily renews his relationship with the Father by prayer.

Praying in the early morning behooves all of us.  At five or six in the morning we will not likely be distracted or interrupted.  We can use this time to order our day by asking the Spirit to guide us in fulfilling our various responsibilities.  And no matter whatever happens to us that day we know that we already done what is crucial – showing our love for God.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tuesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(I Thessalonians 5:1-6.9-11; Luke 4:31-37)

Every once in a while the work of Nostradamus, a sixteenth century French writer, is dusted off to make a prediction of the end of the world.  The supposed seer wrote a thousand verses of poetry that are interpreted, most always after the fact, to have accurately predicted the future. But little if any of his work can be read as precisely saying what or when future events will occur.  In the first reading today St. Paul tells his readers to dismiss foretelling such as Nostradamus’s of the imminent end of the world.

Paul echoes Jesus in saying that the end will come like a “thief at night.”  His readers are to stand ready at all times to greet the Lord when he arrives to claim his own.  Paul evidently believes that the end will come sooner rather than later, but this is not his point.  Rather, he wants the Thessalonians to not make special preparation for that end.  They are to stand for the end semper fi by living as “children of the light.”  This means that he wants the Thessalonians to be a showcase of charity and peace.

We do not know when the world will end.  There is a prediction now that a meteor is closing in on the earth and will cause its demise.  Scientists say that in a few hundred millions of years the sun will run out of fuel, expand, and engulf the earth in flames.  There are other, more tragic scenarios.  Humans have the capacity to end life on earth with nuclear weapons.  We are wise to stay prepared as Paul tells us.  There is no need to live in perpetual fear, but there is real reason to practice charity and peace.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time (Labor Day, U.S.A.)

(I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Luke 4:16-30)

There was a woman at the office where I worked that responded in a striking way when I asked her how she was.  She said that she was thankful to have a job.  She may have meant two things by this response: that she had strength to work and that she had employment.  Today, Labor Day in the United States, is more a day off, the last of the summer holidays. It is a time to give praise and thanks for the work that we are doing. Jesus underscores this point in today's gospel.

When Jesus proclaims "glad tidings to the poor," he does not mean the destitute or the unemployed so much as the majority of workers.  In his time and still today in many parts of the world laborers have difficulty meeting family needs. Jesus is telling them that they no longer have to worry.  Their salvation is at hand.  The reign of God has come to see after for their welfare.

Work, of course, produces much more than money to put food on the table. Just as important, it gives us an opportunity to participate in divine creation. This may be readily seen in the efforts of builders, scientists, and artists, but it is true of all who labor. By cooking, selling, cleaning, and preaching, we make the world a better place.  By these activities we assist others live full and gracious lives.