This weekend can come with a lot of mixed emotion. As much as it’s a bonus long weekend, it’s also the final toll announcing the beginning of a new school year for many. It’s an end of summer vacation, and a time to return to business. Oddly enough too, Monday is a day when we celebrate labor, something that brings with it the same mixture of emotion. Work isn’t always something we feel like celebrating.
As people of faith though, we have every reason to celebrate this holiday. While it’s not a religious feast, and we don’t need to go to Mass (sadly), we believe that work is an essential part of who we are, and it’s an essential part of how we become who we’re meant to be. The saints speak of how our daily labors unite us with God. Part of the brilliance of creation is that God takes a step back and empowers us, who are made in His image and likeness, to share in that creation. He works through us, wherever we are and whatever we’re doing, to continue His work of making the world good and beautiful.
Rather than just being a burden or an obstacle then, our daily duties should be a joy because they are our way of fulfilling God’s plan for us. It’s in those duties that each of us develops as a person. By taking responsibility, showing dedication, being willing to sacrifice of ourselves, that we become mature Christians able to live up to our Baptismal calling. And beyond that, it’s through those duties that God uses us to transform the world. Whether we work as a lawyer or custodian, chef or doctor, mom or engineer, we are His presence in that small corner of the world. We can speak with His voice in the face of injustice, we can be His compassionate hand for those in need, and for so many in our world who don’t know Christ, we might be the only opportunity they have all day to meet him.
So this weekend we reexamine those daily responsibilities that we so often dread. In our work, do we feel that sense of excitement, knowing it may be through us that God is able to bring light to our dark world? If we are students, do we trust that it is in our learning that God is preparing us for our life’s mission? If we are retired, do we find opportunities to volunteer and give back to others, knowing that we are never done laboring for God in the vineyard? As we celebrate this weekend, as we prepare for a new year, let’s remember that we do all things for God’s glory.