Example of the Holy Family
Work is good for us! Why? Jesus taught us the importance of work by spending most of His time on earth in Nazareth with Mary His Mother and Saint Joseph, His foster-father. Among the many activities that Jesus carried out was that of WORK.   True!  Saint Joseph taught Jesus the hard and demanding work of a carpenter. No electric helps back then!  Nailing, and sawing and sanding and adjusting wood to construct tables, doors, chairs, etc. This indeed was hard-work.

In my private meditations I have often imagined Jesus and Saint Joseph arriving home after a hard-day’s work. Imagine them. Exhausted, drenched with sweat, their hair filled with saw-dust, their hands grimy and calloused. This was not on occasions, but day after day!

This being the case, in a world where the importance of the work-ethic has largely gone by the wayside, where many choose the easy-path of not working or cutting corners, where laziness and indolence is all the more prevalent, we would like to present positive reasons why we should truly value work in its many dimensions, shapes and forms and embrace the work ethic all the days of our short lives on earth. St. Paul says, “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.”  Saint Albert Hurtado stated:  “There are two places to rest while on earth: the cemetery and heaven.”  Let us work hard in this short stay on earth and then we can rest forever in heaven with Jesus, Mary and good Saint Joseph!

Following are some reasons to motivate us to embrace a more serious work ethic so as to perfect our lives on a human level, but even more on a spiritual level. Here are five specific points to motivate us.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph at work
1.    IMITATION OF JESUS, MARY, AND ST. JOSEPH.   At Nazareth, where Jesus spent most of His life on earth, He lived the family life, which consisted of loving and obeying His parents, prayer to His heavenly Father, but also Jesus worked and He worked hard—that of a carpenter. Therefore, one very clear reason for work is to imitate Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph; they are our models in everything and that includes dedication to work.   The three of them worked hard, orderly and methodically and for the honor and glory of God! Such should be our work ethic!

Mother Teresa and a work of love
2.    CHARITY TOWARDS OTHERS. Another reason and positive effect of work well-done is that it can be turned into a service of love towards others. An industrious mother and wife that spends long hours in the kitchen both cooking, preparing and cleaning can indeed be very hard work, but it can also be an act of service towards others as well as an act of charity. Saint Paul reminds us to purify our motives: “Whether you eat or drink do all for the honor and glory of God.”

You thought your day was tough?
3.    AVOID MANY TEMPTATIONS TO SIN.  Saint John Bosco, the well-known patron of the young, experienced a mortal fear every year at the same time.  Vacation time for the young!  Why? For the simple reason that many of his young would leave the Oratory, where the young worked hard all year at study, sports and other activities, and now they would return to a home where they had too much free time.  The proverb rings so true: “Idleness is the workshop of the devil.”  If the young person does not have anything to do then the devil will give him a lot to do in great abundance. Hard work and diligence in work is a key means to conquer the devil and his allies!

St. John Bosco teaches them to work
4.    ETERNITY AND ETERNAL RECOMPENSE.   The Word of God teaches us constantly that we will get our reward or punishment on the quality of our lives and how we utilize out time, treasures and talents. Look at the lives and the example of the saints and how hard they prayed, but also how hard they worked. The motto of Saint Benedict was “Ora et Labora”—translated—Pray and work!   The great Doctor of the Church and patron of moral theologians and great lover of Mary, St. Alphonsus, made a private vow which consisted of simply this: NOT WASTING A MOMENT OF HIS TIME! Honestly, all of the saints strive to live the spirit of this private vow of Saint Alphonsus. Life is short and time indeed is of the essence.  A modern Chilean and Jesuit Saint, who died in his early fifties of pancreatic cancer, Saint Alberto Hurtado expressed it succinctly:  “There are two places to rest: the cemetery and heaven.”

Learn from the hard-working ant!
5.    GOOD EXAMPLE TO OTHERS.  We all know how true it is that we often follow the example of others, be it for good or be it for evil. The Hispanics have a proverb: “El ejemplo arrastra”—translated: “Example drags or pulls!” I remember as a child SATURDAYS!  I actually hated Saturday mornings for the simple reason that my father made me, my older brother and then eventually the younger ones work and work hard.  I indeed hated Saturdays. However, I do have to admit that the boys worked hard but saw the harder work and example of Dad! In all honesty, he worked harder and better than his sons.  In other words, he preached the ethic of work, not so much by many words, but by the power of example, his own hard work-ethic!