First Down (September 3, 2017)

Dear Friends,

Where did the summer go? With Labor Day weekend here, it seems to mark the end of summer and soon the beginning of the fall season. Many of us have entered the fall/winter routine of life. Vacation and travel life is put aside for many people, and now we focus on the task at hand.

I would like to share with you a focus on the message behind Labor Day. As Americans, we have a reputation that we work long and hard. Some would point to our material comforts and advantages as a by-product of hard work and dedication. There is still the idea that being in this country one can dream of anything, and through hard work, it can happen. I would say most of us are familiar with this line of thinking. I know for myself and others, there is something good about working a long day, knowing that tasks were accomplished and that we got closer to fulfilling a goal that we had set.

Work is seen as a gift from God, to be able to give humanity the ability to use one’s gifts and talents to do great things for others. When work is seen as serving others and accomplishing good things for humanity, this can please God. There is a beautiful prayer in our faith that asks God to, “give success to the work of our hands.” In this case, success is to find and have proper meaning and balance regarding our work. This is a success that God blesses and enriches.

Work becomes a heavy burden when those responsible for offering work to others forget the dignity of those employed. I sometimes see people working very long hours, to make ends meet or because the pressure of the business says that is what one does. I have come across places of employment that do not pay adequate wages or do not offer enough hours or salary to have to pay benefits. I encounter those who have given many years of work with a company or business, and then the company realizes they can pay someone else less money by letting go of the older person. The Church reminds us that the economy is meant to serve people, not the other way around.

People’s family life, mental health, physical health and even spiritual health suffer when one’s work treats its people as only an end to its means. My message today is I believe we can all do better. We have a powerful economy. When it is used to serve everyone, it shares great resources that all in this world would want. When people who offer employment respond poorly to their employees, this is something that God does not bless.

What a great country and powerful economic system we have. When it places people as the highest priority, it does great things. When it does not, it really is difficult to see God bless the work of our hands. If we have any influence in employment of others, we can remember that work can give us dignity and blessings when done well.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric