Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Jesus as an Undercover Boss

April 7, 2016

During the seven week span from Easter to Pentecost, the apostles were firsthand witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, but they lacked their mission. In those days, Jesus was not always visibly with them and the Holy Spirit was not prompting them to preach the Good News. And so, the apostles had extra spare time on their hands. But even if you’re a person who has seen Jesus Christ risen from the dead you still need to eat. Therefore, Peter says, “I am going fishing,” and six others decide to go along with him. Fishing the Sea of Galilee was Peter’s line of work before Jesus called him to become a ‘fisher of men.’

Jesus Appears on the Shore in John 21In today’s Gospel, Peter goes back to his old job. And then, unexpectedly, Jesus shows up at Peter’s workplace. Like an “undercover boss” on TV, Jesus comes in disguise. Jesus’ glorified and resurrected body allows him to conceal or change his appearance. At first, amid the routine of their work, the disciples fail to recognize him. But after catching their huge catch of (153!) fish, they realize “it is the Lord” and begin acting differently. How would you respond if the Lord appeared at your workplace as a customer, co-worker, or boss?

Sometimes we Christians slip into mentally separating our life at church from our life in the world; for example, working in the world without thinking of our faith. But we must remember to honor and serve Jesus Christ always and everywhere. You have probably heard of the importance of ‘seeing Christ in others.’ Seeing Christ in others means treating them like you would treat Jesus Christ himself. Now, of course, a Christian should not worship anything or anyone other than God, but Jesus wants you to love other people through the love you have for him.

As Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, when he comes in his glory with all the holy angels with him, Jesus will sit upon the throne of his glory and all the nations shall be gathered before him. And Jesus, the king and judge, shall declare to them, “Amen, I say unto you, inasmuch as you did it to one of these least of brethren of mine, you did for me.” Therefore, recognize Jesus encountering you, unexpectedly and disguised, at the place where you work—in your customers, your coworkers, and your bosses—and love them with your love for Christ.

Advertisements

Baskets & Beds — Thursday, 3rd Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

January 30, 2014

Gospel Reading: Mark 4:21-25

Is a lamp “placed under a bushel basket or under a bed?” Of course not, for the open flame of an ancient lamp would risk the fiery destruction of these tools of work and rest. We must allow God’s Word to enlighten our toil and leisure, rather than try to suppress the Light in pursuits of profit and pleasure. Otherwise, “from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

We’re in a Hurry — 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

July 18, 2010

The other day I was thinking about this homily when I heard the words of some modern poets on my radio. They said:

I’m in a hurry to get things done,
Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun.
All I really gotta do is live and die,
But, I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.

This goes to show that we still have a Martha problem today. The group Alabama said that they didn’t know why we get in a hurry, even though we’re not having fun, but I think I know the answer. The reason is that our loves and good desires are mixed with fears. If we would take that fear away, we would find peace.

Martha loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him well, but she had fears mixed in. She was the one who invited Him to the house and He probably had His apostles and other disciples with Him. She was busy serving them all, perhaps making the biggest meal she had ever made, and she was full of worries. “What if I’m a poor host and Jesus is disappointed with me? What if there’s not enough food for everyone to eat?”

We are often the same way. We fear that our lives are on the edge of disaster if our own plans and efforts should fail. We worry about bad things happening to ourselves and the people we love. We are anxiety about how Jesus feels about us.

Martha had a great desire to do good, but Martha’s fear tempted her to do harm. Her sister, Mary, was sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to His words. (The Greek word for disciple actually means “one who sits at the feet of.”) Martha tries to take Jesus’ disciple away from Him.

Similiar thing can happen in our live on account of fear mixed with love. A husband and father can obsess about his work, out of a love for his family and a desire to provide, but his family can be left feeling like they come second in his life. A wife and mother can be so concerned that her loved ones will be safe and happy that she tries to control everything, making her family less happy because of it. Martha’s problem and ours is not that we work–work is a part of life–but in how we go about it.

Jesus says to Martha, and to us, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.” What is this one thing we need? We need the peace of Christ. What is the peace of Christ? It is several things.

It is the awareness that God is near and guiding us. In the first reading, three heavenly visitors approach outside of Abraham’s tent. Now, the Holy Spirit dwells within our tents, Jesus is at our side, and we have a Father above. We are never left on our own.

With the peace of Christ we recognize that whatever may happen to us or those we love, it is for our good. As St. Paul observes in the second reading, even his sufferings are a cause for rejoicing for they advance the salvation of the whole Church with Christ.

With the peace of Christ we recognize that misery is not just around the corner, nor is happiness out of reach. Happiness is at head, in the knowledge that Jesus loves us, likes us, cares about us, and cares for us. Living in the peace of Christ means there is no reason for us to be unhappy.

Let us continue to do works of love for God, ourselves, and others, but let us do them always in the peace of Christ.

Staying Until Leaving — Thursday, 4th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

February 4, 2010

Jesus provided the Twelve with their message to preach, their authority to cast out demons, and their power to cure the sick. However, Jesus withheld from the Twelve some basic provisions: no food, no bags, no spending cash, no second tunics for warmth in the cold night. On the other hand, Jesus instructs them carry walking sticks and wear sandals. What is Jesus thinking?

Jesus wants His disciples to be mobile, so that they can quickly travel to distant towns, but Jesus doesn’t want His disciples to be self-sufficient once they get there. Their lack of food, of money and of a place to sleep, forces them to become fully present to others. It necessitates the personal encounter.

Jesus told the Twelve to enter the lives of others, to enter their homes and to stay there until they leave. But what does it mean for them to stay until they leave? (How could someone leave before they’ve left?) Jesus is commanding them not trade up from house to house, as better accommodations are offered, thereby alienating and dishonoring their first hosts.

What does this gospel mean for us today? First of all, that our most important work, whatever our state in life, is our personal ministry to the people to whom Christ is sending us. We’re all busy, but we must not be too busy for what’s most important. Our professional careers will end, but our personal relationships will last, literally, forever.

Sometimes when we encounter other people we neglect Jesus’ advice to stay until we leave. Someone is speaking to us and we mentally check-out to green pastures. Sometime we fail to encounter the other person at all, brushing them off like dust on our feet.

I’ve heard it said that something which often struck people who met Pope John Paul the Great was how totally present He was to them, with his eyes and his mind, as if they were for him—in that moment—the most important person in the entire world. Can we imagine a personal encounter with Jesus Christ being any different? John Paul was a very busy man with a world of concerns on his shoulders, just like Jesus Christ, but they both had the time for what was most important.

I want to live more like that.  Don’t you?

Man’s Mission — Friday, 3rd Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

January 29, 2010

In the beginning, the Lord God settled the man in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. Then the Lord made the man a partner suitable for himself. Each day had seen God make greater and greater creations and on this last day, God makes His final, ultimate creation: woman.

The man beholds her with joy. He authors her name, which points to his authority, yet this authority is not meant for dominance but service, like the authority exercised by Christ. The man is meant to work to nuture and guard the garden and to nurture and guard his wife.

Before the Fall, all work was free from toil. Work carried with it no pains, no exhaustion, no boredom or strain—only feelings of satisfaction, creative accomplishment, and pleasure like those which we still sometimes enjoy from doing a job well done.

The man was placed in the garden with an important job to do, to nurture and protect, but he neglected his duty, and this led to the Fall. For where was he when the cunning serpent was out of place and out of line enticing his wife towards death? Maybe he was off sleeping on the job, taking an afternoon nap somewhere, like David in the first reading:

‘At the turn of the year, when kings go out on campaign, David, however, remained in Jerusalem. One evening David rose from his siesta and strolled about on the roof of the palace (for he had nothing else to do) and from the roof he saw a woman bathing, who was very beautiful.’

David forgets about his kingly work and duty, to fight the good fight, and from this comes his fall. He exploits the power of his authority and sins against a woman he should to honor and defend.

Our lives are meant to more than just our work, but faithfulness to some form of work before God is meant to be a part of our lives. Our work helps us to be good and to do good for others. Maybe you’re retired now, but if you’re still here on earth then the Lord must still have some important work for you.

What work has the Lord entrusted to you? Be as faithful to it as you ought so that Christ, the new Adam, may grow His virtues in you and harvest good works in you.