Workers and the Unemployed: That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good.
Work brings a basic dignity to our human participation in God’s creation. Although we can cooperate in God’s work through our labor, and we can exercise creativity in the arts, speech, and thought, we cannot truly create out of nothing. Only God creates in this fashion, ex nihilo, and it was in this way that He created the world.
Pope Francis has since the beginning of his Pontificate put great emphasis on our Christian duty to respect workers and the kinds of work they do. In a 2013 audience from Labor Day, he exhorted the People of God, calling for an end to slave labor and human trafficking, encouraging us to look for creative ways to help our brothers and sisters find fulfilling work.
The Holy Father connected this to one of the pillars of Catholic social teaching, the intrinsic dignity of every human person: “I wish to extend an invitation to everyone to greater solidarity and to encourage those in public office to spare no effort to give new impetus to employment. This means caring for the dignity of the person.” As we pray with the Holy Father for workers this month, it is good for us to consider how we are building up those for whom we work, those with whom we work, and those who work for us. We must be especially attentive to our shopping habits and the way in which we use the Internet. The products of sweatshops and human trafficking are widespread, and it takes careful diligence and a deep life of prayer to avoid the temptation to exploit workers directly or indirectly. Lord bless the work of our hands, Lord bless the work of our hands.
Reflection and Discussion
How can I assist in providing opportunities for fair work and fair wages in my family, social, and professional life? What are my obligations to the underemployed or unemployed? What am I doing to engage the issue of underemployment on a personal, local or regional level?
Acts 20:35 “In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”