The children ask me every year, did Jesus and Mary have a last name? Ironically Fr. touched on this in his homily this weekend, people were identified by their trade or by where they came from. Joseph was known as the carpenter, Jesus was often referred to as the Nazorean. A girl or woman of the household was associated with her father's or her husband's household. Slaves took the name of their master's house.
I ask the kids to identify what their parents do and then we identify them by their trade. We come up with labels of 'Bill the engineer' or 'Joe the computer technician'. It makes them laugh because they can see how the old trades evolved into some peoples last name, like Carpenter or Baker or Blacksmith. Today is Labor Day and I am reminded of all the labors people are called to in this day and age.
When God created Adam and Eve, He never meant for His people to be burdened with their labors. It was never meant to be a job. He gave Adam dominion to till the soil and care for His creation, but it was to be "a labor of love." The burden and toil of labor came as result of the Fall, a consequence to Adam and Eve's disobedience. We have been given the opportunity through Jesus Christ to offer those labors up for the glory of God and with those graces, the burden is lightened. Jesus says, "take up your yolk and follow me and I will give you rest."
How many of us find pleasure in the work that we do? How often do we look at our work as a job and have lost the joy it once brought to us. To know we are sharing a gift we were given by God to bring to someone else and take such a pride in the gift we cherished it and honed it so we could be the best God created us to be. And then....after sharing that gift with those around us, God gave us a Day in which to rest in His presence and give honor and glory to Him. A Day in which to thank Him and to receive Him into our bodies to nourish us for another week, all for the Glory of God.
I have found that if I brought a ho hum attitude to the work I have been given, that is all I've got...ho hum. You will only get out of something what you put into it. For some people that is a hard lesson to learn. But once we realize this gift in us was given by God, and we recognize that fact and then give God His due, an attitude change takes place. It may be subtle at first but our 'job' no longer seems like a job but truly becomes a "labor of love" just as God planned it to be.
22 July: Feast of St. Mary Magdalene
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