To share in the life of the Holy Trinity, Christians must work

To share in the life of the Holy Trinity, Christians must work

A worker watches as a machine processes cotton yarn at a Huafu Fashion plant, as seen during a government organized trip for foreign journalists, in Aksu in western China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Credit: Mark Schiefelbein/AP.)

It is a forgotten teaching that work is necessary for discipleship. It’s included within the way of the Lord.

Commentary

On this Holy Trinity Sunday, Christian believers throughout the world rejoice in the mystery of God and the power of the revelation that he has given to us. Today we celebrate the Divine Family – the Holy Trinity – of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In disclosing the inner reality of his own life, God invites every man and women to come to him and join in his familial fellowship. For those who accept, they choose to follow what Abraham the patriarch called “the way of the Lord,” namely, the way of the living God. This way was further described as “the most excellent way of love” by Saint Paul.

The way of the living God is not easy or comfortable. It involves a constant willingness to hear God’s voice and a readiness to accomplish it with selflessness and joy.

While this way includes broad acts of prayer, mercy, selfless service, and a love for the sick and poor, it also includes everyday responsibilities, such as work.

Those who follow the way of God are called to work.

This is a timely reminder as our society faces a shortage of workers, a widespread reliance on unemployment assistance, and a generally moral acceptance to avoid work.

While work serves the purpose of helping people and families to provide for their basic needs, there are other existential, spiritual purposes for work.

Recognizing the love and self-donation between the persons of the Holy Trinity and seeing his work in the created world, we can see an affirmation of humanity’s spiritual nature in its ability and call to work.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds believers: “Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another.”

We are able to work because we are in God’s image and we are called to work since we can continue his very work of creation. By working – in whatever form – we can experience the presence of God and actively be a part of his own work in the midst of our world.

The Catechism continues: “Hence work is a duty: ‘If anyone will not work, let him not eat.’ Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him.”

Our work is not random or accidental. We are able to do the work we do because of the talents bestowed upon us by God. When we work, we can recognize these abilities and use them virtuously for the glory of God and the building up of society.

The Catechism further teaches: “[Work] can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish.”

And so, work helps us to know God’s presence, recognize and use the talents he had given to us, and grow in greater holiness.

It is a forgotten teaching that work is necessary for discipleship. It’s included within the way of the Lord. The children of God are expected to work. In our work, we learn about ourselves, assist in the common good, and give praise to the Triune God, who lives and works among us. The Catechism summarizes these truths: “In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work.”

With this rich teaching on the role and importance of work, the children of God must exemplify a strong work ethic and model the goodness and indispensability of work for the whole of society. Christians are called to be salt, light, and leaven, and one of the principal ways to fulfill these responsibilities is through virtuous and good work.

The Church rightly bewails the loss of work as a wound to human dignity since it threatens a person’s equilibrium, leading them to self-absorption, a neglect of society, and ultimately to sloth and melancholy of soul.

Christians are called to share in the life of the Holy Trinity. As such, they are called to work, and the witness of strong, virtuous workers is greatly needed in our world today.

Follow Father Jeffrey Kirby on Twitter: @fatherkirby

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