Labor Day


(Gen 1:26-2:3; Ps 90; Mt 25:14-30)


The first reading from Genesis provided for this Labor Day fittingly portrays God at work at creating the universe.

“Let us make man in our image” could indicate the Holy Trinity, but more likely this “Majestic plural,” the language that monarchs use, denotes the royal, kingly and queenly energy God has placed within us, birthed as we are as male and female in this world.

God can hold male and female energy together, but we cannot. We are one or the other, and that creates a longing for wholeness, completion, consummation within us that Ron Rolheiser OMI calls a “holy longing.” We need to understand this if we are to handle this energy well. It is best expressed within the safe container of marriage, where sexual intercourse is sacred and holy. Outside of that committed relationship, it is too powerful, becomes pornography, and burns or wounds us at a most profound level when we selfishly view it.

Basically, Jesus never, ever used his divine power in a selfish way. The challenge for us, who have been given this powerful gift of our human sexuality, that divine inner fire, is to never use it in a selfish way either. That gift is meant to be respected and used always to give life and genuine love to others and the world, to be always open to that gift of life.

Then there is the word “have dominion” over creation. Unfortunately, that has translated itself into the domination of colonization, that gave permission for European colonizers to consider themselves superior to the original inhabitants of this land, and to do what they want with them and their property. That mentality still exists today as museums and other such institutions see themselves having the right to decide what to do with the artifacts of the Indigenous peoples.

In fact, Indigenous spirituality can help us here. We need to move from the biblical notion of domination, to the social justice concept of stewardship. We are to care for, not exploit, creation. Indigenous spirituality takes us one step further – we are in an intimate relationship with all creation, and are to walk in harmony with all of created beings.

God, after each day of creation, saw that creation is good, which makes us wonder how the mentality that matter is somehow evil or bad, and only the spiritual good, could develop within the church to the point of a heresy? Hopefully, we are moving beyond that to where we can legitimately enjoy all the goodness of God’s creation without guilt, as long as it is within the will of God.

The teaching of a sabbath day, of God resting after having created the world, is something needing to be revived today, in our drive towards greater and greater production, consumption, and valuing people by their work rather than by their just being created. All human labor should be seen as a joyful participation in the ongoing work of God’s creation.

Richard Rohr OFM provides an interesting and alternative interpretation of the gospel from the usual one of using our gifts and talents to make the world a better place, for which we will be rewarded, rather than neglecting to use our gifts, for which we will be punished.

After arguing with the scribes and Pharisees, who put a lot of stress on external observance of laws rather than a religion from the heart, and who easily slipped into over-attachment to possessions, prestige, and power, Jesus shares this parable with his disciples. In this context, those who buy into the systemic injustice of the institutional religion of the scribes and Pharisees, who become rich at the expense of the poor and voiceless who are exploited, are the ones who make more talents.

The person who buries his talent and gives it back to the owner, are those who protest the unjust systems of the day, who refuse to give in to the pressure to collude with the unjust powers, who blow the whistle on injustice and corruption, and who are often victimized and punished for doing so. While rather novel and unusual, this unique interpretation is something to think about and to be aware of in our own day.

The Eucharist is one of the very good things that God has given us, helping us to express our gratitude to God for the gift of creation and the value of human labor, as well as empowering us to be just and walk in a harmonious relationship with all of God’s creation.

Updated: September 5, 2022 — 2:39 am

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