Sermon: Josemaría Escrivá

Mark Twain writes, “I do not like work even when someone else is doing it.”  That probably sums up how many people feel about work.  There are those who are completely content not working, even if it means someone else will have to pay their way, but for the Christian person, work is not something that should be shunned, because, through our work, we are participating in the work of God.  

Cardinal Stephan Wyszynski (the head of the Catholic Church in Poland for thirty-two years) wrote Sanctify Your Daily Life, with the subtitle, How to Transform Work Into a Source of Strength, Holiness, and Joy.  He says, “Everything in the universe acts by God’s power. If God were to deny His power to the world, even for an instant, it would all be plunged into lifelessness and the shadow of death.

“Everything that lives is bound up with this work [of God]; everything is dependent on it for existence. It is worthwhile keeping this picture before one’s eyes so as not to overestimate the fruits of one’s own work. Man creates nothing; he merely transforms God’s ready-made gifts…. Yet [God] entrusts the details of His design to man, to a rational being who, with the help of prudence, must play his part in bringing all creation to the fulfillment of the whole plan intended by God.

“Christianity… brought about the elevation of work [but now]…work is often regarded as a sad necessity to be gotten through for the sake of earning a living, Christianity continues to link it with God. From this linkage flows the whole blessing of work. ‘For thou shalt eat the labors of thy hands: blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee’ (Ps. 127:2).” (p.14, 17, 21)

The Spirit of Human Labor, also by Cardinal Wyszynski, was first published in 1948 and became widely known in the 50s and 60s through multiple translations primarily because of the work of our Saint for the day, Josemaría Escrivá.  Escrivá would give copies of it to those he led in spiritual direction.  Given that, although I don’t have proof of it, I would say it is safe to say that Wyszynski contributed to Escrivá’s understanding of work, which is one of the main focuses of Escrivá’s teachings and the organization he founded, Opus Dei (The Work of God).

Escrivá writes, “Work is man’s original vocation. It is a blessing from God, and those who consider it a punishment are sadly mistaken.  The Lord, who is the best of fathers, placed the first man in Paradise ut operaretur, so that he would work.” (The Furrow #482)

Today, in our Gospel, Peter and the others have been fishing all night and caught nothing, but when the Lord told them to try again, they caught more than they could haul in.  Work for work’s sake can be fruitless, but work done in cooperation with God can produce great fruit, sometimes materially, but always spiritually.

Understand your work as being in cooperation with the work of God so that no matter what, the work you do is sanctified.  In doing so, even when it is mundane and repetitive, you will experience the love and joy of God.

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