This weekend we celebrate Labor Day. While we have gotten away from the origins of this holiday (to celebrate the rights of those who labor), it is a good opportunity to reflect on how we work whether at home, in an office or factory or store, or at school. This holiday along with today’s readings (Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Luke 14:1, 7-14) beg the question, “What kind of worker am I?”
The reading from Sirach and Gospel passage remind us that humility and self-knowledge go hand-in-hand. We need to know what are gifts and talents are as well as our limitations. However, we must also be humble enough to know when to use those attributes and when to let others shine. A good work environment means that we are collaborators—we work together to achieve a common purpose or goal. It doesn’t matter what the goal is, what matters is that we are all on the same page. If someone on our team is only concerned about himself or herself, the whole team suffers and the goal is not attained. On the other hand, if people only do their task without reference to others on the team, the job may get done, but productivity and morale suffer.
Being truly humble means that we are called to do our tasks well and to recognize that no person is an island. Each of us is in a relationship to those around us. As humans we are social beings and we need one another in order to build up God’s Kingdom. In addition, we need to know our limits. We need to ask for assistance when we cannot complete a task. Moreover, an integral aspect of being humble is gratitude. Knowing that we are a community of persons requires that we give thanks to those who have been a part of our lives along the way.
On this Labor Day weekend, I encourage you to re-create. Take time to enjoy your friends and family. Spend a part of this holiday relaxing. But also take an opportunity to say “thank you” to those who have labored on your behalf. If you can’t say “thank you” in person, offer a prayer for them to God. Ask God to bless those who labor (especially if they are burdened).
May God continue to help each of us to do our tasks with charity and love. And may our labors produce much fruit in the vineyard of the Lord.