September 27, 2015: Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
Through work, we continually participate in upholding life in God’s creation. By supporting a living wage and safe working conditions, economic justice aligns with the common good in respecting worker’s dignity by providing the necessities of life.
“By his work and industriousness, man—who has a share in the divine art and wisdom—makes creation, the cosmos already ordered by the Father, more beautiful. He summons the social and community energies that increase the common good, above all to the benefit of those who are neediest…” Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 266 From: https://cst74life.wordpress.com
First Reading: Numbers 11:25-29
Psalm:19:8, 10, 12-13, 14
Second Reading: James 5:1-6
Gospel: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to “social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.” This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values. (2286) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The Church’s love for the poor is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, by the poverty of Jesus and by his attention to the poor. This love concerns material poverty and also the numerous forms of cultural and religious poverty. The Church, “since her origin and in spite of the failing of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defence and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere”. Prompted by the Gospel injunction, “You have received without paying, give without pay” (Mt 10:8), the Church teaches that one should assist one’s fellow man in his various needs and fills the human community with countless works of corporal and spiritual mercy. “Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God”, even if the practice of charity is not limited to alms-giving but implies addressing the social and political dimensions of the problem of poverty. In her teaching the Church constantly returns to this relationship between charity and justice: “When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice”. The Council Fathers strongly recommended that this duty be fulfilled correctly, remembering that “what is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity”. Love for the poor is certainly “incompatible with immoderate love of riches or their selfish use” (cf. Jas 5:1-6). (184)
The awareness that “the form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31) is not an exoneration from being involved in the world, and even less from work (cf. 2 Thes 3:7-15),which is an integral part of the human condition, although not the only purpose of life. No Christian, in light of the fact that he belongs to a united and fraternal community, should feel that he has the right not to work and to live at the expense of others (cf. 2 Thes 3:6-12). Rather, all are charged by the Apostle Paul to make it a point of honour to work with their own hands, so as to “be dependent on nobody” (1 Thes 4:12), and to practise a solidarity which is also material by sharing the fruits of their labour with “those in need” (Eph 4:28). Saint James defends the trampled rights of workers: “Behold, the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (Jas 5:4). Believers are to undertake their work in the style of Christ and make it an occasion for Christian witness, commanding “the respect of outsiders” (1 Thes 4:12). (264)
Remuneration is the most important means for achieving justice in work relationships.The “just wage is the legitimate fruit of work”.
They commit grave injustice who refuse to pay a just wage or who do not give it in due time and in proportion to the work done (cf. Lv 19:13; Dt 24:14-15; Jas 5:4). A salary is the instrument that permits the labourer to gain access to the goods of the earth. “Remuneration for labour is to be such that man may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily his own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of his dependents, in view of the function and productiveness of each one, the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the common good”.The simple agreement between employee and employer with regard to the amount of pay to be received is not sufficient for the agreed-upon salary to qualify as a “just wage”, because a just wage “must not be below the level of subsistence” of the worker: natural justice precedes and is above the freedom of the contract. (302)
You start the day, your breakfast sits before you as a gift to start and nourish your day. A cup of coffee, bowl of oatmeal with dried cherries, walnuts, cinnamon and a sliced banana provides a meal encompassing global dimensions. Coffee from Guatemala, oats harvested in mid-western fields, cherries from fruit trees in Washington, walnuts picked in California’s Central Valley, cinnamon from Viet Nam and a banana from Ecuador. From the time the food was planted, tended, harvested, processed, packaged, transported and placed on a shelf in a grocery store, how many people were responsible for you being able to eat your breakfast? A meal considered a luxury in many parts of the globe. Have you thought if those people were not doing their job, you would not have breakfast? Were the workers paid a living wage, so they could provide for the material, social, cultural and spiritual life of themselves and their families? Do you take time to know where your food comes from? Was the food grown to respect creation with sustainable practices? Does your coffee and bananas have fair trade certification? Our food cannot be taken for granted, for it is produced in the web of humanity’s interconnectedness.
The precepts of the Lord give joy to our hearts and we must view living with luxury and pleasure with disdain as it only rots with time, physically and to one’s heart. In a consumer driven culture, these prophetic words may be difficult to pronounce. To ignore exploitation of laborers’ wages provokes a sin of omission. The Lord calls not just a few activists to be prophetic, but all people receptive to His spirit of justice. For when justice prevails, peace flourishes.
Individual Reflection: James 5:1-6
October is Fair Trade Month. To celebrate the work of Fair Trade Farmers, have people at your parish bring Fair Trade items they purchase and place them at the foot of the altar during Mass when the gifts are brought forward. Then donate the items to a local food bank.
Family Reflection: James 5:1-6
Reflect on how your family might live with less luxury and stand in solidarity with the marginalized in the world, by turning off your air conditioner, walking to do your shopping, eating a grain based meal or planning a service vacation instead of spending a week at a luxury resort.
Prayer: Adapted from the Communion Antiphon
By this gift, we have come to know your love God. That your Son laid down His life for us as an example that we ought to lay down our lives in service for one another, be a voice for one another of your justice. Help us to see our sins of omission, when we choose to ignore injustice to maintain our comfort, maintain luxury while others struggle to survive. May our hearts realize in your eyes we are only as well off as the least among us and any different perception is a mirage void of your vision. Give us hearts of compassion on our journey to live the message of your Son. In His name we pray, Amen.
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born, September 24, 2015 Memorial of Padre Pio The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.