Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
(I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Luke 4: 16-30)
It was customary for presidential candidates to begin their political campaigns on Labor Day. They often returned to their hometowns to present their policy agenda. Jesus does something similar in today’s gospel.
Jesus is about to launch his career as a reforming prophet. Quite dramatically, he returns to Nazareth to lay out his objectives. By no means does he profess “a rising tide will lift all boats.” No, he will direct himself to the needs of the poor, the sick, and the oppressed. However, everyone – poor and rich alike – will have to reform their ways. The townspeople think that they might be privileged because they know Jesus’ family. But Jesus quickly disabuses them of the idea. To participate in the Kingdom of God, he indicates, one has to work for the common good. That goal takes precedence over individual desires.
Today, Labor Day in the United States, bespeaks the need to reflect on the nature of work. Whether it is to heal, to build, or to clean we should see it as both a gift received and a gift given. We not only have received a job but, more basically, the ability to work. We work not only for our own benefit but also to make the world a better place. As Jesus hints in the gospel, with this frame of reference we prepare ourselves for God’s Kingdom.