Monday, September 3, 2018
Br. Jay RIVERA FFV - Franciscans of Life
Labor Day is here. In most countries, this holiday is an unknown. To add to my unorthodox way of thinking, I believe that Labor Day and Mother’s Day should be celebrated together. Make the first Monday of May Labor Day, and the second Sunday of May Mother’s Day. I can’t imagine a more tender experience and a greater work of love than giving birth.
Having said this, I would like to share with you how the Franciscans of Life are taught to think of Labor Day.
First: The day should begin with a reading of the story of Creation from the Book of Genesis.
It must be read the way that the writers intended to share it with their descendants. It’s not a scientific or even a historical account of creation. It is bigger than that. It is a Revealed Account of Creation. God revealed Himself as the origin of all that exists. He reveals Himself as a generous Father who gives his children everything they need. Until the fall of Adam, nothing was missing from man’s life. He reveals that everything in Creation, even those pesky little insects that annoy us, are good.
Observe that each stage of Creation ends with, “and God saw that it was good.” If man respects the goodness of the natural order and the goodness of all created things and beings, the world would truly be a Garden of Eden. This message is very clear in Genesis. The Garden of Eden is a place where all things and beings co-exist in harmony, each respecting the domain of the other and everything fulfilling its role in God’s plan for our salvation.
Second: When I was a missionary in South America, people often asked me why Americans didn’t work on Labor Day. They found this to be a contradiction. I always explained that it is a day that we set aside to honor workers and human enterprise.
The question is, do we in America truly think about all workers, not just those who sit behind desks?
Do we appreciate the fact that were it not for those who work for the Department of Sanitation, we would be living in the Middle Ages, where rats and insects fed off the garbage that people threw into the streets and that children often played with these little critters, were bitten and died? Thanks to sanitation workers, American children don’t have to feel threatened by infected rodents and insects. They can play in relative safety in their back yard or a park.
Holidays come and go. Mornings come and go. Who remembers that the sanitation worker, the teacher, the lawyer, the doctor and every working man and woman in the world has a life beyond their work place? Sometimes, they face great difficulties in their lives outside work. For some, work is a respite from family problems, the illness of an elderly parent, an abusive marriage and more sadness. If we don’t pray for these people during the year, can we at least remember them in prayer on Labor Day?
Third: I was not kidding about mothers. Giving birth is an act of real love.
For 40 weeks, a woman gets ready to meet her little one. But as the weeks go by, the discomforts increase. There are back aches. There are issues with gestational diabetes and intra-uterine blood pressure.
Then there are all those things that people keep telling us can happen to our babies: blindness, intellectual disabilities, brain damage, and more. The truth is that the number of children born with these conditions is a very low percentage and today we have the means and the knowledge to provide for them.
The day finally arrives. It’s “Labor Day.” The promise made by God to Eve in the Book of Genesis is fulfilled. A mother experiences great pain and anxiety for hours between the onset of labor and the actual birth of her child. However, when she sees and counts those 10 little fingers and 10 little toes, all that pain and anxiety is forgotten.
Dads have been standing by trying to be as supportive of Mom as possible, often feeling helpless. Some men feel guilty when they see the pain of labor and delivery. They feel that somehow, they have contributed to the suffering of the woman they love. Those feelings disappear when they get to hold their child and glance into that tiny face covered with a knitted cap and wrapped in a white receiving blanket (with blue and pink stripes, just in case).
Do we pray for parents on Labor Day? Do we remember those who find themselves in unexpected pregnancies and are struggling with the question, “Should we go forward with this pregnancy or get an abortion?” How many parents pray for their sons and daughters, that when their time comes to be parents, they will choose labor, not death.
This Labor Day, let us remember to thank God for the Work of Creation. Let us commit to co-exist responsibly, using what we need and preserving what we don’t need so that others may reap some of the benefits of creation.
Remember that every person has a life beyond the job that he or she does. They need our kindness, our respect, our patience, and our prayers.
Please do not forget your parents and the labor of love that brought you into the world and the work that they have done or are still doing to help you grow and live happily.
Finally, remember those couples and those pre-born children who may be in crisis this Labor Day.