Labor Day weekend is, of course, the unofficial end of summer. Living in Florida, I really don’t see the difference. Here, it just means that we are entering the peak of the hurricane season!
But really, Labor Day is a worthy holiday in its own right. It is, after all, labor that has made this country what it is. It is not lofty, “ivory tower” ideals, or politicians, or corporations. It is ordinary folk who get up and go to work every morning, even when the back hurts, or the fishin’ hole is calling. Just imagine how quickly life as we know it would grind to a halt without laborers!
There are the obvious kinds of laborers who build our homes, buildings and roads, and who manufacture our goods. But there are lots of other laborers as well — those who care for others, those who design the goods we build and sell, those who raise families, grow our food, etc.
There is great spiritual value to labor. Paul warned of the danger of idleness: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.” (2 Thess. 3:10-11)
My mother toured western Europe in the late 1940’s and while there had the opportunity to meet Pope Pius XII. She often commented on his hands. When she shook his hand, he had the hands of a laborer — hard, calloused and gnarled. Nothing soft and dainty about this Pope! She learned later that he continued the discipline of labor (cleaning, gardening, whatever) because of the inestimable spiritual value of work.
Of course, this does not necessarily mean a conventional nine to fiver. But it does mean, that as much as we are able, we are to labor to meet our own needs, and to be able to help meet the needs of those around us.
In the context of your life, how do you labor for the benefit of yourself and others? And, do you remember to give thanks to those who have labored for you?
This column appeared in the September 2, 2018 issue if St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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