Happy Labor Day to readers in the United States! The holiday was initiated with noble intentions in the late 1900s to “recognize the many contributions workers have made to the United States’ strength, prosperity, and well-being.” However, over time it’s turned into a 3-day weekend for the last chance to enjoy the relaxed days of summer before the school year begins.
I’d like to consider with you on this Labor Day the entrance and the communion antiphons for today’s celebration of the Mass. I believe they guide us in how the LORD desires for us to respond to the labor we have been given to do.
May the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!
God looks upon all his creation as good, and he looks at us as very good co-creators with him. To be fruitful and multiply applies to more than procreation. He has instilled within us a desire to re-create and innovate. There’s not an animal alive that finds a cave to live in and immediately thinks, Now, what can I do to improve the place?
Where are you right now? Is your environment in need of improvement? Are you looking at the 4 walls of your office, harvesting a field, or holding your child? Whether at work, play, or rest God has given us the work of re-creation. This truth helps to widen my perspective on every task of my hand as an extension of God’s re-creation of the world! The psalmist declares,
One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts…
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
When we live as co-creators with our Creator, we move toward pursuing all of life with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to declare the LORD’s abundance, freedom, love, and grace. Sounds noble enough, doesn’t it? But, the re-creation of a broken world is challenging. The environment of the workplace–office, factory line, field, or home–doesn’t necessarily make co-creating with Christ easy. It can be the hardest place to re-create!
St. Benedict, in his Rule, refers to the “Work of God” as liturgy. In the Sacred Tradition of our Faith, the work of God includes all of life–all of life is sacramental! We worship in the liturgy of the Mass, celebrating Christ, our Redeemer, and High Priest. There, our response to our salvation is the liturgy of praise and thanksgiving. The last words of the prayer of the Mass are “Go forth, the Mass is ended” which, interpreted means, “Go, in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
Are we able to step through the doors of our parishes into the liturgy of our lives responding with praise and thanksgiving? Are we able to see every moment of our work as the work of God? Can we begin to give great attentiveness to the movement of God in our attitudes and actions as we work alongside others? St. Paul wrote to the Colossians,
Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Creator God, the heavens declare the work of your hands! May the words of our mouth, the meditation of our heart, and the work of our hands declare you to our corner of the world. May we moment-by-moment bring joy and pleasure to you as we co-create with you. May we love you in the best way we know how in all our relationships.
Forgive us when we stumble along with missteps caused by our forgetfulness that your love for us is to be displayed before everyone, even obnoxious and slothful fellow workers. Guard us and defend us from back-biting and slander, murmuring, and gossiping that destroy relationships.
May we give thanks to you in all things, rejoice always, and pray without ceasing!
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be world without end.