Human work is a gift from God


A number of years ago the Catholic Church designated May 1st as the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. This date was obviously chosen because this was the day that atheistic communism was celebrated by communists throughout the world. It was to be for Christians a day to remember the real dignity of work rested on the fact that human work was a gift to human beings, a gift that God gave us to help us continue the work he began when he created the world.

Work was not a curse for sin. Before sin entered the world God told Adam and Eve to work together to subdue the earth. It was his plan then, it is his plan now for people to work together for the common good, that is for the good of all people. This was not the teaching of atheistic communism. Work for them was a part of class struggle. It is not a concept shared by those who see work as a tool for people to obtain as much of the goods of the world they can for themselves. The world is a gift of God for all who are created in his image and likeness and more importantly our working together to subdue the earth is a gift of God to help us become God-like.

Yes working together will enable us to be more God-like, which is clearly part of the Christian message. As Christians we believe in the Trinity, that is the truth that teaches that God by nature is One but in God there are three divine persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are not three gods but one God.

The three persons united in love act as one. We though many are called to act together.

It was certainly the prayer of Jesus the night before he died that not only his apostles, but all who through their teachings would come to believe in him as Son of God, would be one; that our unity might manifest the unity Jesus had with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

On May 1st, the prayer the Catholic Church invites its members to say at Mass proclaims that God our Father “in every age calls us ot only Catholics, but all who see work as a gift of, God say Amen.

It is God’s will that we work not in competition with each other but in cooperation with each other. Too often there are those who tell us otherwise, including those who warn us that one day the world will not be large enough to meet human needs. Our problems in the future and our problems now will not and is not in how large the world is, but in how great is our vision of who human beings are and what we can do when we work together as God’s children in love. We are on this world not to take what we can for ourselves but to work with all for the common good.

(Rev. Msgr. Thomas R. Duffy is pastor of St. Anthony Church in Florence and is dean of the Pee Dee Deanery.)