20 September 2020
Phillipians 1:20-24, 27
Work is more than a paid job…
Who are you? Where do you come from? What do you do?
These three questions have started many a conversation. All three are important but it’s the third one that is of special interest in the context of today’s Gospel reading. What do you do? How do we answer that question today? Most people respond by telling the questioner the job they have. Jobs are important and the work done in them is real work. But a great deal of work is done that is not paid employment. Work done by a parent in the home, for example, is real work even if it’s unpaid. So too is work done when people help their neighbours or take an active part in local community organisations.
Gaelic footballers / camogie players / hurlers work very hard for many years to get themselves into a County, Provincial or All-Ireland Final. There are many other examples of real work that are not paid employment that could be cited here.
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus tells the story of the workers in the vineyard. In this story we can see how people’s attitude towards payment for their work changed as people who worked shorter hours received the same remuneration. This story challenges us to reflect on our attitudes towards paid employment.
But at a more fundamental level it challenges us to reflect on our understanding of what work really is. Meaningful work is very important for everyone. It plays a huge role in defining how people engage in shaping the world in which they live. People need meaningful work. It contributes to developing one’s skills, one’s sense of self-worth and so much more. Work is anything that contributes to one’s own development, the development of community or the wider society. Society ignores the value of such work at its peril.
Taken from a reflection on Work by Fr Seán J Healy SMA, 2008
Fr Healy is now CEO of Social Justice Ireland
Click on the play button below to listen to an alternative homily from Fr Tom Casey SMA