“Do not work for food that goes bad. But work for food that endures for eternal life.” As Catholics, there is a need for us to examine our attitudes towards work. Are we working for food which lasts and which gives eternal life? Or are we just working for money, at the expense of our society, our family, and ultimately ourselves?
There are three terms referring to our work. They are ‘travail’, ‘work’ and ‘labor’. These are three words that seemingly refer to one thing: human activity. But these three words are actually distinct from one another.
Travail emphasizes the pain. It means painful effort. It is the cognate of trabajar in Spanish and travailler in French. The image we can use here is the carabao that ploughs the field. Slaves work in this manner.
Work is derived from an old Germanic word werk that emphasizes the use of power and strength. Work speaks of continuous painless effort like the work of machines. Companies like BMW operate 24/7. The image we can use here are the works of the bees. Tirelessly, they work to build the beehive and honeycomb.
Labor is another term. Labor combines several elements such as the pain in travail, the productivity in work, as well as the right attitude towards work which is called love. The image we can use here is the mother in labor! There is pain. There is the fruit of the womb. Yet, there is definitely the presence of love. This is the reason why after the long hours of painful labor, immense joy follows.
God, according to Cardinal Newman, has created us to do Him a definite service. He has committed a work to us which He has not committed to another. Each one of us has our own mission. Whatever that is, it is our vocation.
Two missionaries from our Archdiocese were working at Solomon Islands when their boat capsized last July 28 at around noon. Ryan Turallo, a native of Iriga City, a volunteer youth leader, died. Fr. Ed Siguenza, native of Buhi, survived and was rescued from one of the islands two days later. They remind us of our vocation.
A poet wrote:
"No matter what my daily chores might be/to earn my livelihood, still may I see/the real position that I hold/is bringing others to the Master's fold."
Business is service, not only for profit. When we only think of profit in business, then the more profit we make, the better the business. This is how drug lords and narco-politicians think of business.
Indeed, every human endeavor has the building of the nation and the service to others as its objective.
We must have the spirit of the heroes and missionaries. While we see how many seeds there are in a papaya fruit, heroes and missionaries can see how many papaya fruits there are in a seed. While we can count how many bad politicians there are in the country, heroes and missionaries can see how many young people can transform society for every heroic act.
Let us not act as endorsers of politicians. Rather, let us be endorsers of heroes and missionaries. Let us work for food that will last for eternity.