In Conversation With God Weekly Reflection
21st Week of Ordinary Time: The Value of Our Daily Work

By Francis Fernandez-Carvajal


4/78.2 The value of work well done.

In his years in Nazareth Our Lord has given us a wonderful example of the importance of work and of the human and supernatural perfection with which we have to carry out our professional tasks. The fact that Jesus grew up and lived just like us shows us that human existence and all the ordinary activity of men have a divine meaning. No matter how much we may have reflected on all this, we should always be surprised when we think of the thirty years of obscurity which made up the greater part of Jesus’ life among men. He lived in obscurity, but, for us, that period is full of light.[4954] His very way of speaking, the parables and images that he used afterwards in his preaching, reveal to us a man who has experienced work first hand: he speaks always for the person who is struggling, for ordinary folk whose lives are governed by the law of normality, the predictable pattern of events for people everywhere. This is the background to Christ’s preaching, and in this climate his teachings have always remained graphically anchored. He was not the ‘philosopher’ or the ‘visionary’ but the craftsman, a man who worked, like ordinary people.[4955]

In Saint Joseph, our Father and Lord, we also have the example of a life of work, an ordinary one like our own; and we can entrust to him today our dedication to our professional tasks. It was he who initiated Jesus into his craft and who taught him the skills of an accomplished master in the use of the tools of his trade, of saw, chisel, plane and file.

During his public life the Master called to his service people who were accustomed to work: Saint Peter, a fisherman by occupation, returns again to his fishing as soon as he gets the opportunity;[4956] Saint Matthew receives the call to follow Our Lord while he is sitting at his desk in the tax office; and so too all the others.

When Saint Paul left Athens and came to Corinth, he found there a Jew named Aquila, originally from Pontus, and his wife Priscilla. He joined up with them, and since they were of the same trade – they were both tent-makers – he stayed in their house and worked along with them.[4957] During the eighteen months he spent in Corinth Saint Paul wrote those demanding instructions to the Christian community of Thessalonica, since he saw that many of the evils which befell them were due to the fact that some of them were more given to idle chatter and to wandering about from house to house than in spending their time attending to their duties.

We, for our part, ought to consider frequently the technical perfection of our work – whether we begin it and end it according to a fixed timetable, even though many of our colleagues, or even all of them, for whatever reason, do otherwise; whether we carry it out in an orderly fashion, not leaving the hardest and least attractive part to the last; whether we work intensely, making the best use of time, trying to avoid the interruptions of unnecessary or less urgent conversations or telephone calls; whether we are keen to improve the quality of our work through further training or study, trying to be up to date in the latest advances being made in ours as in every profession; whether we strive for excellence, as occurs when we are genuinely interested in something, but with reasonable balance and rectitude, without detriment to the time we owe to our family, to our brothers or sisters, to the apostolate, and to our own formation. Let us consider, too, whether we duly look after the implements we use, if either they are our own or belong to our employers. Let us contemplate Jesus in the workshop at Nazareth; let us ask Our Lord to allow us to enter there with the eyes of faith, and there we will see if our work really has the quality and the high degree of competence which He expects of those who follow him.

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[4954] St. J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 14

[4955] R. Gómez Pérez, Faith and Life, Madrid

[4956] cf John 21:3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Francis Fernandez-Carvajal,

Rev. Francis Fernandez-Carvajal

Rev. Francis Fernández-Carvajal is a Priest of the Opus Dei Prelature and the author of many popular spiritual works. His seven-volume series In Conversation with God provides over 500 meditations to be used throughout the liturgical year. It has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into many languages.

Francis Fernandez-Carvajal,

Rev. Francis Fernandez-Carvajal

Rev. Francis Fernández-Carvajal is a Priest of the Opus Dei Prelature and the author of many popular spiritual works. His seven-volume series In Conversation with God provides over 500 meditations to be used throughout the liturgical year. It has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into many languages.


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