homily – September 3

Labour Day

It just doesn’t seem right that summer is over – have you ever wondered why July and August can’t last as long as January and February?

On the Labor Day weekend maybe we can spend some time reflecting on how we co-operate with God in the ongoing evolution of creation. At Mass we make our offering of bread and wine to the God of all creation – our bread which earth has given and human hands have made – our wine, fruit of the vine and the work of human hands.

Do we ever stop to think of all the work of human hands that goes into the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the computers we use, the cars we drive – the homes we live in – all the work of human hands. Do we ever stop to think of how much those humans hands earned from their labor compared to the price we pay for their work? Last Sunday we celebrated the Festa of St. Gabriel out in Immaculate Conception Parish in Woodbridge. There were thousands of people there. I love giving out Holy Communion at the Festa – placing the host in a person’s hands I can’t help but think of those words – the work of human hands. I see them as honest hands – hands that have hammer and nailed, mixed cement, laid bricks, painted walls, hands that drive transport trucks and taxies, subways and buses – hands that set tables and cooked countless meals, hands that push baby carriages, dress children and clean homes – hands that transplant organs, set bones and mend hearts, hands that take temperatures and blood pressures, hands that steady the old and feeble, hands that write on blackboards and write report cards, hands that run up our groceries at cashier counters, hands that work computers, hands that write legal briefs.

This beautiful church in which we celebrate is the work of human hands – and for their work we are grateful.

This is what we celebrate on Labor Day – the work of human hands. Labor Day is the holiday that recognizes the contributions of all those who labor for the benefit of the common good. Labor Day offers us the occasion to remember that God is not finished with creation nor is God finished with our being created. There was a poster out years ago of a young kid – scruffy, soiled clothes – he looked like he’d been playing in the mud. The caption on the poster was ‘be patient with me, God’s not finished with me yet’

God’s not finished with any of us yet – God is not finished with God’s creation yet – the universe is still evolving. Someone has said, ‘Every day is Labor Day for God – God’s creating labor began some 15 billions years ago in the original burst of energy that was the beginning of our expanding universe. Every thing that is or yet to be was in the original flaming forth – just at the giant oak was in the acorn. Every Day is Labor Day for God and the product of God’s industry is our own evolving into a maturity in Christ, thru the working of God’s grace within us. And part of our growing to maturity in Christ is in our growing awareness of the goodness, the beauty and the frailty of God’s creation. I think we can see the result of God’s labor in humanity’s growing awareness of the crisis in the life systems of planet Earth – global warming, the changing of weather patterns, the pollution of the air we breathe and the water we drink, the loss of the very soil that feeds us. I think we can see the result of God’s in humanity’s gaining an awareness of the inter-connectedness of all life systems on planet Earth – our growing awareness that we are a member of all the life communities on Earth – we are not over and above, we are one with those communities – planet Earth is not a collection of objects, it is a community of subjects. As humans we share in God’s creative and creating activity when we look to and simplify our life styles – we share in God’s creative and creating activity when we do what we can to heal our wounded home Earth.

Every day is Labor Day for God and every day is Labor Day for us because no matter what form the work of our human hands involves – we are in fact co-operating with the creating power of God in God’s good creation. Part of God’s laboring in us can be bringing us to deeper understanding of the words we say at the beginning of the Creed – I believe in God, Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.

As we continue this Mass, we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we come to appreciate our sharing in the creating power of God through the work of human hands for this is what we bring to every Mass – our labor symbolized in bread and wine – which thru God’s power become for us the bread of life and our spiritual drink.