Monday, September 3, 2018

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church

(I Corinthians 2:1-5; Luke 4:16-30)

Like some of the other national holidays, "Labor Day” has lost much of its meaning.  Few people today see it as an opportunity to celebrate work.  Instead, like Presidents’ Day and even Memorial Day, Labor Day is just another day off.  Ideally, it is an opportunity to contemplate at leisure the meaning of work and its inherent dignity. Today’s gospel can assist us in this effort.

Jesus proclaims "glad tidings to the poor." He does not have only the homeless and unemployed in mind.  The vast majority of workers at this time have difficulty meeting family needs. As is indicated in the parable of the Laborers of the Vineyard, many workers do not receive a full day’s wage.  But now that Jesus has come, workers may fret no longer.  He brings the good news of salvation. As his disciples, the rich will share with the poor.  More to the point, as God’s anointed Jesus will lead the people from fetishes and misconceptions about religion.  He will speak authoritatively so that they will follow.  Most of all he will care for the people sacrificing himself so that they may be freed from the snares of sin.

Work, of course, produces much more than money to put food on the table. As importantly, it gives all women and men occasion to confirm their inherent dignity by participating in divine creation. This may be readily seen in the efforts of engineers, scientists, and artists, but it is also true of people who labor. By cooking, selling, or cleaning, we make the world a better place.  Putting our mind as well as our muscle into work, we can legitimately call ourselves “co-creators of the world.”