Work is a dirty word for many. It speaks of toil and drudgery, necessity and slavery. In our day, the joy of work is seen not in the pride of the end product or result, but rather in the finishing of the task or of receiving the paycheck. Work for all too many is that elusive reality that is beyond their grasp, or if they are lucky enough to find work, they can barely make ends meet to provide for their families.
And yet work is a beautiful gift of God. In fact, the first work that God called Adam and Eve to enter into was god-like: the entrustment of all creation to them so that they may name creation, take part in the ownership of creative things, and be stewards of that creation. They were reminded that God's work was the work of creation. They saw that everything that he had worked on was acknowledged to be good. Their work continued God's work, and it was good. Even after the fall, their work was good, though now it would require the sweat of their brow. They were to use the grace provided, do the best that they could, give thanks to the Creator, and take pride in their accomplishments.
The work of God continues in the work of his Son, Jesus. The redemption that he accomplished has set us free of toil and drudgery, of burden and slavery, and given us freedom. It does not mean a life of ease. It does mean a life worth living, of satisfaction in work, of pride in our accomplishments.
On this day in this great nation when we honor work, we need to renew our efforts and re-establish our desire to see that all men and women are provided with decent jobs, given adequate pay, shown respect and dignity, and be allowed to see their talent and ability put to use in the fulfillment of God's plan. We have a long way to go. But we also have graces given us that allow us to have hope and to strive for what is better. Saint Joseph, patron of workers, pray for us.