There are two diametrically opposed ways of looking at work: it can be seen as a curse or as co-creation with God. Both views are present in the Bible but the general thrust of the Church’s teaching is the latter. Through work we share in the creative action of God. Tomorrow, May day, we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the worker.
We know from the gospels that Joseph was a carpenter – indeed Jesus is identified by Joseph’s trade on a few occasions. This was, and is, skilled work that needed a variety of talents. Working with natural materials the carpenter can bring useful and beautiful things into being. And that should be how we see our work – whatever we do for a living.
Work properly approached and freely undertaken can lead us to God as we realise our part in his creative action, as we undertake tasks that are useful to others, and in the words of Mother Teresa, make something beautiful for God. Work becomes a curse when we make it an idol or the only thing that matters in our lives. It also becomes a curse when men and women are defrauded of their just wages, and against that sin the Church’s voice needs to be raised loud and clear.
May St. Joseph pray for us that we through our work as educators may bring many children and young people to God.