Labor Day

Today’s readings: Genesis 1:26-31; Genesis 2:1-3; Psalm 90; Matthew 25:14-30

“Well done, good and faithful servant. Come share in your Master’s joy.” These are the words that we all want to hear one day, on that great day, the judgment day, when God gathers us all in to bring us to the reward for which he created us. This parable is Biblical evidence that just accepting the faith and having a relationship with Jesus aren’t enough for salvation. We have to work with God, using the talents he has given us, to help God create that “kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace” (Mass for Christ the King).

And so, like the man who received one talent, we cannot go hiding our talents away hoping that our Lord will ignore our fear and poor self-image. We have to be willing to invest our talents in the work of creation, doubling what we have been given, and bringing it back to the Lord.

So many people say, when they are asked to do some special project or take a place on a ministry “Oh, I could never do that. That’s for people with way more talent than I have.” I have two things to say about that. First, they might be right. Maybe they don’t have the ability, all by themselves, to do what God is calling them to do. But God never said they had to do it by themselves, did he? God can provide infinitely what we lack. Second, this kind of false humility isn’t praiseworthy. It is almost like spitting your talent out of your mouth, back at God, and saying, “God, what you have created is nothing.” God forbid that we should ever say that to the one who made us!

And so, on this Labor Day, we are asked to pause in the busy-ness of life and look at what God has created, and the talents he has given us. The Church teaches that our work is to be an active participation in God’s ongoing work of creation. Our work must build up the world in beauty and splendor, carefully using but protecting the rich gifts of the earth, caring for and loving the poor as God himself loves them, and making the world a better place than we found it. That is the nature of the talents with which we have been entrusted, and we must busy ourselves making good use of them, because we don’t know when our Lord will return in glory to gather everything and everyone back to himself.

Today we are commanded to “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” We take up that call anew on this Labor Day, praising God for the goodness of creation and the blessing of our talents, and resolving to use all of that for his greater honor and glory. The Prayer after Communion sums up what we ask for on this day: “By doing the work you have entrusted to us, may we sustain our life on earth and build up your kingdom in faith.” Amen!