SIGNS AND BEARERS


SIGNS AND BEARERS
Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker
May 1, 2013
Brother Luigi Flores

Today’s feast was instituted by Pope Pius XII who thought that the celebration of Labor Day should be Christianized. After all the Philippines is not the only country that celebrates this day to honor the dignity of human labor.

My parish, Saint Joseph the Worker at Tabunok, Talisay City, Cebu also celebrates its fiesta on the occasion of its 50th founding anniversary. My felicitations go out to Reverend Monsignor Ruben Labajo and the pastoral team: Fathers Alex Apigo, Art Bornia, Dindo Yosores, and Jun Mahinay.

Today’s feast is also celebrated with greater solemnity in the Dioceses of Daet, San Jose (Nueva Ecija), Tagbilaran, Ipil (Zamboanga del Sur), and the Apostolic Vicariates of Taytay and San Jose (Occidental Mindoro).

***

Work was sanctified by God and he made it for man.

Man was not created for work, but work was made for man.

God blessed work and made it holy, that through it we gain what we need for a better life.

In six days God created the world and rested on the seventh day.

So should we.

Sometimes we get too much concentrated on work that we fail to realize that it is already dehumanizing us, that it tends to take out our sanity, that it makes us walking dead.

Take for this instance this manager.

Almost two years back she came to the Philippines to run a department that has just jumpstarted its operations.

She was (I believe she still is) pretty, but her lines have already shown due to unwanted stress.

She loved the job that she already innovated, built and designed processes to put everything in place.

However, in the process, she was not able to gain friends, she lost a lot of sleep, she developed more lines and wrinkles.

She became so grumpy and fickle-minded.

Her work day starts at 9:00 a.m. but she goes home at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., and she would just sometimes sleep at the pantry to wait for the sunrise.

Too much work? Maybe.

Is she a workaholic? Maybe not. She might just have too much work to finish.

And alas when it took a toll on her, she called it quits.

She wanted her old life back.

Now that she submitted her resignation, she was no longer the workaholic her subordinates knew.

Her face shone again. She found zest and a new lease on life.

Her love life even flourished.

Should work be this vicious?

***

We live in a very competitive world where rank, money, fame, fortune, prestige all matter.

Blessed John Paul the Great, in his encyclical on labor (Laborem Exercens) says that man “is made to be in the visible universe as an image and likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth”.

When we pray to God to “prosper the work of our hands”, as the psalmist sings, we trust that all work should be for our benefit because God only wants the best for us.

Our work should also benefit others. We may benefit ourselves, but if we work only for ourselves, we may never find true satisfaction.

We work to live, and not live to work.

Man’s capacity to work, John Paul says, is one of the characteristics “that distinguishes man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work”.

Animals hunt to eat, and they eat to survive.

If we follow this characteristic, we will not need to work anymore. We will just take what is not ours. We will do anything to get what we want to sustain us.

However, man has intellect and a capacity to create and generate.

This capacity allows us to use this for our benefit, and for the rest.

If we get paid for work, we answer our needs. If we work, we benefit people who need our services.

At work we encounter the best and the worst experiences.

We may get berated, scolded, but the bottomline for every work should be the benefit of others.

We dignify work by the service we give. We glorify God by helping others.

And the best part of it…

Is that we get paid for it.

May Saint Joseph, patron and model of workers, be our guide that we may be humble in our work, and that we ask God to prosper the work of our hands so we can glorify Him.

God bless us all. Amen.

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