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Monday, September 07, 2015

6 September 2015 – Labour Day

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reflection

First Reading
Proverbs 9:1-6
Second Reading
Ephesians 5:15-20
Gospel
John 6:51-58

A few words and phrases stood out for me in today's readings. The phrases of the first reading, “a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear!” speak to the conflicting moods of North America and Europe today. Our leader's are promoting a climate of fear, especially fear of the other. Yet, there are those who are inspired to be strong and refuse be paralyzed by fear. They refuse to give up hope for the world. They believe things should and can be better.

The words from today's Gospel, “‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened’”, just would not leave my consciousness. Could Jesus be speaking to us as well as the deaf and speech impaired man in the gospel? Is Jesus asking us to open our ears and hear the cries of the strangers, widows, and orphans asking the greed-world countries for asylum from wars, poverty and oppression? Is He asking that we open our ears and hear the peacemakers and climate activists pleading for an end to the war on nature and an end to wars between and within nations? Could Jesus be asking us to to open our ears and hear the cries of migrants and the working poor for fair wages and working conditions? Likewise, is Jesus asking us to loosen our tongues and speak plainly against all that is unjust?

This is Labour day. So today, I'll focus on labour injustice by reading “Our Path Forward” an adapted excerpt from the Labor Day Statement issued by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It states:

We share one common home as part of a larger, single family, so the dignity of workers, the stability of families, [] the health of communities [and the health of the natural world] are all intertwined. The path to a renewed society is built on authentic solidarity and rooted in faith. It rejects the individualism and materialism that make us indifferent to suffering and closed to the possibility of encounter.

Individual reflection and action is critical. We are in need of a profound conversion of heart at all levels of our lives. Let us examine our choices, and demand for ourselves and one another spirits of gratitude, authentic relationship and true concern. Pope Francis reminds us that “Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practice the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship . . . [and] break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness” (no. 230). The changes we make to how we live and interact with each other [and nature] can help change the world.

Yet individual effort should not stand alone. Our faith calling to love one another impels us to share that vision of charity and justice with others, and to go forth and encounter those at the margins. Through collective action and movements, we have to recommit ourselves to our [relatives] around the world in [our] human [and non-human] family, and build systems and structures that nurture family formation and stability in our own homes, neighborhoods [and in our relationship with Mother Earth]. Sufficient decent work that honors dignity and families is a necessary component of the task before us, and it is the Catholic way.

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. This Labor Day and always, let us pray, reflect, and act, seeking to restore our work and relationships to the honored place God has ordained for them.

Please share your thoughts.

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