Work when sanctified sanctifies

- Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

May 1 is celebrated in a special way both in the Church and in our civil society. In our liturgical calendar, it is the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, and in our civil society, it is National Labor's Day.

Both focus on the importance of work. We, of course, do not need to belabor the obvious. Work is a necessity in our country if we want to survive economically and even politically. That's why we are interested to know about productivity, efficiency, profitability, GDP, GNP, ROI, etc.

There are many issues involved in this particular aspect of work. Generation of employment is one; another is equitable distribution of income. In this regard too, we can also talk about minimum wage, what would constitute as fair work conditions, etc.

But in the heat of sorting out the macro issues of work, we should not forget that work is first of all necessary for everyone's personal growth, development and maturity. It unleashes our powers and actualizes our potentials.

Aside from giving us a source of income and a stabilizing element in family life, it is what gives us a deep sense of fulfillment and joy. Everything has to be done so that these personal, micro aspects of work are always enhanced, and not unduly sacrificed due to some macro goals. 

This is just to follow that Christian teaching that the person should be given priority over the demands of labor and the economy. The latter should work for the good of the former, and not the former enslaved by the latter.

Underpinning all these considerations is a more fundamental and radical truth that should always be respected, and in fact, fostered every step of the way and in every level of human life, personal, family, social, economic, political, etc.

And this is none other than that our work is actually an intimate, personal participation of the continuing work of God which is his abiding providence over all his creation.

As image and likeness of God, we live and do everything, including our work, with God always. Even without realizing it, the objective truth is that our life, and everything in it, is always a life with God.

Our work therefore is not just ours. It just does not correspond to some purely natural and human needs. It is by definition a work with God. We need to be most aware of this truth, so we can also consciously and freely work in sync as much as possible with God's will and ways, as is proper to us as God's image and likeness.

If we know, believe and start living this truth, then we can conclude that our work is the usual and main means for all of us to be sanctified, for that is what is meant when we vitally unite ourselves with him, when we conform our will and work with God's will and work. Our work can make us holy, since it can unite us subjectively with God.

This effort of uniting our will and work with God's will and work is what comprises the task of sanctifying our work. When we try to discern what God wants us to do and then do it with utmost love for him and others, we are sanctifying our work.

That work that is so offered and done to God with love, expressed in doing it with the best competence we can muster, will surely sanctify us. It would purify us and put us on the path of resembling ourselves more and more with God who is our Father, our beginning and our end-in fact, our everything.

We need to retail this truth more actively and widely. Some of us may already know this truth in theory, but we are not yet there in practice. In this sector alone, a lot needs to be done.

But we also know that there is even a much larger sector that does not know the intimate connection of work with God. In this regard, we really have to mobilize whatever resources we have to establish this truth firmly in our culture.

May those who know this truth be more consistent in living it. May they also be more active in spreading it until this truth permeates the life of the family, and the spirit with which we live out the social, economic, political aspects, etc., of our life.

Our times now challenge us to have a more mature understanding of our work; otherwise we would simply get confused and lost in the many new things arising around.










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