More importantly does God have a purpose in mind for us as we spend sometimes 40 – 60 hours plus a week at the workplace?
For Christians, especially Catholics, Labour Day is an opportunity to pray and celebrate with workers around the world. This is because 1 May, in the Catholic Church, is celebrated as the day dedicated to St. Joseph, the worker and foster father of Jesus.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is referred simply as “the carpenter’s son” (Matt 13 verse 55). And yet in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is referred to as “the carpenter” or the worker (Mark 6 verse 3).
There can be no doubt that Jesus was a man of work and we know he valued work. Certainly as a carpenter, he must have sweated, got dirty and even experienced the tedious nature of work.
Pope Saint John Paul II had some very interesting thoughts on work. In his encyclical (letter), entitled “On Human Work” (Laborem Exercens) Pope Saint John Paul II outlines three important requirements that are needed for any type of work to be considered suitable for the human person.
Work, he says,must remunerate. In other words, it must allow for the workers’ livelihood. When we employ anyone to do work for us, the employee should be able to draw from that work the means of providing for his life and that of his family.
Work must also be fulfilling. It should be normal to like what we do and see our work as contributing something to our society.
Above all, work must help build God’s Kingdom here on Earth. This means because of our work we will be building a world of unity; one where freedom reigns supreme and one where the dignity of the human person is valued.
Any decent work agenda will take care of the three fundamentals that Pope Saint John Paul II proposes. Workers will be happy to provide for their families and hopefully they too will do their best to enhance the productivity of their employers.
If our attitude towards work is positive we will create an environment in which we work harder; treat each other as employer and employee with respect; promote better understanding amongst colleagues at work and improve on customer care.