The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a statement for Labor Day, 2015, detailing the importance of work and the current state of labor in the US.
The majority of jobs provide little in the way of sufficient wages, retirement benefits, stability, or family security, and too many families are stringing together part-time jobs to pay the bills. Opportunities for younger workers are in serious decline.
Labor has become one of the more politicized issues in the US, and as usual Catholic teaching straddles both sides of our political spectrum. It stresses what conservatives like to call the “Right to Work” …
Labor is one important way we honor our brothers and sisters in God’s universal human family. In the creation story, God gives us labor as a gateway into participation with Him in the ongoing unfolding of creation. Human labor, at its best, is a deeply holy thing that ought to honor our dignity as we help God “maintain the fabric of the world” (no. 124, citing Sir 38:34).
… while also demanding the dignity of a fair and livable wage for all.
In demanding a living wage for workers we give hope to those struggling to provide for their families, as well as young workers who hope to have families of their own someday. Unions and worker associations, as with all human institutions, are imperfect, yet they remain indispensable to this work, and they can exemplify the importance of subsidiarity and solidarity in action.
Labor Day is a time to reflect, and in reflecting to take action toward improving the labor situation in our country and in the world.
USCCB Labor Day Statement 2015
Christian Democracy: Labor’s Day
Dorothy Day on Work; March, 1947. CatholicWorker.org
My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. ~James 2:1
“The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.” ~Dorothy Day
The first quote, taken from today’s second reading, reminded me of the second. I’ve posted before some thoughts on giving as generously as possible, and without judgement. “Freely you have received; as freely you should give” (Matthew 10:8). We should all strive to be more God-like in our dealings with one another.
As Pope Francis’s recent encyclical Laudato Si points out, we continue to squander one of God’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. This world we live on, entrusted to us as a gift to all humanity, is being plundered and squandered for the short-term selfish gain of a few at the expense of millions of others. God entreats us to share our world’s bounty among the global community. We of the First World generally ignore the call, but God still graces us with enough wealth for all His people around the world, hoping in love that we will share while knowing that ultimately we will not.
As Catholics we understand that God has given us not only a wealth of gifts and blessings, but also the free will to use them (or misuse them) as we see fit. God does not withhold His gifts in the fear (or even the foreknowledge) that we might misuse them. Rather, He gives His gifts freely in love, in the hope that we will use them appropriately. And this — this free, optimistic, and loving generosity should be our guide as we deal with our brothers and sisters in this life.
Which brings me around to recent events in the news. It occurs to me that a county clerk who refuses to grant marriage licenses because she feels they go against her own morals is perhaps not giving as freely as she has received. We are told to “give to everyone who asks” — not to judge them, not to decide for ourselves what they may want or need. Just give; pray for them if you feel the need, let them make their decisions for good or for ill, and hope for the best. It’s how God treats each of us, after all. And unless we claim to be wiser than God, it’s how we should treat each other.