Today is Labor Day.
I was having lunch with some friends last week. The subject of Labor Day came up and one of them reminisced about how the parish he grew up in had a “blessing of the tools” on the Sunday before Labor Day. All of the members brought a tool that represented their labor. In the context of the Holy Eucharist, the tools were blessed.
What a great sacramental action. The priorities are rightly ordered. It is not our job to figure out a way to fit Christ into our workplace/career. It is just the opposite. We are to place our labor into the context of Christ Jesus. In Him we live and move and go about our daily labor.
Oh yes. Lets let go of the wrong-headed categorization and comparisons of labor in terms of worth. And, it is folly to attempt to measure their worth over against one another or in convenient terms of salary, time/product ratios, etc. The arena of labor and the kind of labor knows no boundaries. It includes school, workshop, corporate desk, kitchen, hospital/clinic, orphanage, homeless shelter, etc. Your labor, no matter the kind, if in harmony with the commandments of God is holy unto the Lord.
And note that it is in the context of the Holy Eucharist. Our labor is a sacrifice of loving obedience to Christ as we abide/live in Christ.
So often we set our daily tasks over against our “time with the Lord” as if they are in competition for our devotion at a given moment. Jesus does not command an either/or regarding our relationship with Him and our daily work. The key is not to figure out a way to “balance the two” or “fit everything in.” Rather the key is to place one inside the other so they constitute a mysterious third option of the not dualistic “both/and.”
This is the Eucharistic option. This is the life-giving option. This is the enlivening option. This is The Way.
John 6.27-40 (RSV)
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; 39 and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Thank you, Lord, for the Mystery of Holy Labor – Liturgy – the work of our hands, minds, hearts, on behalf of all and for the benefit of all – in and through and of Christ Jesus.