…let them work with their hands at honest labor so that they will have something to share with those in need (Ephesians 4:28)
Labor Day brings thoughts about the meaning of work in our lives. Is it a means to an end or a paycheck insuring a good vacation? Is it a chore? Or is it something enjoying a special place in our lives? St. Paul tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being: (Colossians 3:23), and, in 1 Corinthians, “…fire will test the quality of each person’s work’ (3:13). Later he asks, “…are you not my work in the Lord?” and about himself he states, “We work hard at manual labor…(9:1; 4:12). It is disturbing to know that even today many people are obliged to work under de-humanizing conditions, conditions we thought we had left behind after the “Child Labor Laws” were enacted. Not so. Think of children who still have to terminate their schooling in order to get a job to supplement family incomes. Or think of those former middle-class citizens in our country who, according to statistics, have now joined the homeless lists because technology has robbed them of their former livelihoods. However, there is another side to the phenomenon of work. Though God warned Adam in Genesis, “By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat” (3:19), there was no command not to enjoy work. Why, then, don’t we always enjoy work? It is not necessarily the difficulty of work that over-burdens us but perhaps the fact that it assumes too much importance in our lives: we become workaholics, or the work we do stifles our creativity or puts us in the position of being treated as objects rather than human beings. Is there a solution? Yes. We need to remember that we ourselves are God’s greatest work. If we honor and care for that work, it will give more glory to God than anything else we might do.
Jesus, enlighten us and give us strength so that whatever work we do will be for Your glory.
—Sister Mary E. Penrose
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|