“Weeping over the state of labor”

by | Aug 30, 2014 | Justice and Peace

Labor day“Weeping over the state of labor.” As the United States and Canada celebrate Labor Day here is something to think about from an article A church that embraces the cross must embrace politics by  

The article concludes…

This Labor Day weekend, it’s important to stop and weep over the state of labor in our country. We must bear the cross of the broken systems of which we are all a part — systems that deny workers their dignity.

This is why the American bishops have released a pastoral statement to commemorate Labor Day. They realize that in the United States, we increasingly live and participate in an economy of exclusion and an economy that, according to Pope Francis, kills. The bishops in particular are disturbed that there are millions of unemployed and underemployed young people in our nation.

And sadly, those who do work are often underpaid. Our faith teaches us that human work has intrinsic dignity and that just wages honor that dignity. The current federal minimum wage falls short of a just wage because it fails to provide the resources for individuals to take care of themselves and form and sustain their families.

This fact should haunt our consciences: a full-time worker making the minimum wage for a full year does not make enough money to raise a child free from poverty. That’s unacceptable, and as Christians who try to embrace the cross of Jesus, we must ask our lawmakers to do something about it.

As Pope Francis has recently reminded us, “Work means dignity, work means taking food home, work means loving! To defend this idolatrous economic system the ‘culture of waste’ has become established; grandparents are thrown away and young people are thrown away. And we must say ‘no’ to this ‘culture of waste.’ We must say ‘we want a just system! A system that enables everyone to get on.’ We must say: ‘we don’t want this globalized economic system which does us so much harm!’ Men and women must be at the centre as God desires, and not money!”

We must return the human person to the center of economic life, and one way we can do that is ensuring that workers in our country receive a just wage.

Indeed, we must remember how to weep over this economy of exclusion. We must move beyond the sterilized consideration of people as statistics, as percentages of our population below the poverty line. Instead, we must open ourselves to their stories of suffering and allow ourselves to weep over our brokenness.

Weeping is just the beginning, however. As the prophet Jeremiah demonstrates, God speaks to us through pain and indignation. Once we allow ourselves to overcome our numbness and to feel pain again, we cannot help but cry out for justice. Jeremiah says God’s voice within him “becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”

By allowing ourselves to hear God’s voice of pain and indignation within us, we are necessarily moved to action. Specifically, our Catholic faith calls us to take action as faithful citizens of our nation. A Christian embraces the cross of Jesus by getting caught up in the grittiness of life and proclaiming God’s saving love in the public sphere.

This fall, our nation will elect a new Congress. Our faith asks us to be involved in this political process. At a minimum, it asks us to vote. But more than that — Christians are called to form their consciences, pray for the nation and speak the truth of what God asks of us: to be a nation where no one is excluded and no one is left behind.

The full NCR article A church that embraces the cross must embrace politics  is worth the read… and prayerful reflection.

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