BITE-SIZE THEOLOGY (216): What more do we have ‘from the beginning’?

Rev. José Mario O. Mandía

“From the beginning of creation man has had to work.… God made Adam from the clay of the earth, and created for him and his descendants this beautiful world we live in, ‘ut operaretur et custodiret illum,’ ‘so that we might cultivate it and look after it’ (Genesis 2:15). We must be convinced therefore that work is a magnificent reality” (St Josemaría, “Working for God,” Friends of God, 57).

Saint Josemaría used to repeat that work was not a punishment for original sin. It was one of the gifts of God to us by which we become his image and likeness (cf BST 52). “Make no mistake about it. Man’s duty to work is not a consequence of original sin, nor is it just a discovery of modern times. It is an indispensable means which God has entrusted to us here on this earth. It is meant to fill out our days and make us sharers in God’s creative power” (Friends of God, 57). Through work, we become lords of material reality and thus share in God’s lordship.

Thus, the Compendium (no. 513) teaches us: “Work is both a duty and a right through which human beings collaborate with God the Creator.”

For this reason, we need to work “with commitment and competence” (CCCC 513). When we strive to work with the greatest dedication and perfection we are capable of, we can achieve several ends: “we [1] fulfill the potential inscribed in our nature, [2] honor the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him, [3] provide for ourselves and for our families, and [4] serve the human community. Furthermore, by the grace of God, work can be a means of [5] sanctification and [6] collaboration with Christ for the salvation of others.” We can thus see that work is a grave responsibility for each one.

“We must be convinced therefore that work is a magnificent reality.”

St Josemaría, “Working for God,” Friends of God, 57.

This is why the CCCC (no. 514) also teaches: “Access to secure and honest employment must be open to all without unjust discrimination and with respect for free economic initiative and fair compensation.” Those responsible for the common good are responsible for providing this access.

“It is the role of the State to guarantee individual freedom and private property, as well as a stable currency and efficient public services. It is also the State’s responsibility to oversee and direct the exercise of human rights in the economic sector. According to circumstances, society must help citizens to find work” (CCCC 515).

The right and responsibility to work brings about rights and duties of both employers and employees.

“What is the task of business management? Business managers are responsible for the economic and ecological effects of their operations. They must consider the good of persons and not only the increase of profits, even though profits are necessary to assure investments, the future of the business, employment, and the good progress of economic life” (CCCC 516).

How about workers? “They must carry out their work in a conscientious way with competence and dedication, seeking to resolve any controversies with dialogue. Recourse to a non-violent strike is morally legitimate when it appears to be the necessary way to obtain a proportionate benefit and it takes into account the common good” (CCCC 517).

(Main image: Quang Nguyen Photo of St Josemaría Escrivá: Oficina de Información de la Prelatura del Opus Dei en España. License: CC BY-SA 2.0. Source: Wikipedia)