The Pope Speaks

The Pope Speaks

Homily on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, May 1, 2020

Work makes the human person similar to God, because with work man is a creator, capable of creating, of creating many things; also of creating a family to raise. The human person is a creator, and creates through work. This is his vocation, and it says in the Bible that “God saw all He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Gen 1:31). That is, work had goodness within itself and creates the harmony of things – beauty, goodness – and involves man in everything: in his thought, his actions, everything. Man is involved in work. It is man’s first vocation: to work. And this gives dignity to man. The dignity that makes him resemble God. The dignity of work.

Throughout history we have read about the brutality inflicted on slaves: they were brought from Africa to America – I think of that history that touches my own land – and we say, “What barbarism!” But there are many slaves today too, many men and women who are not free to work; they are forced to work in order to survive, nothing more. They are slaves: it is forced labour. It is forced labour, unjust, ill-paid, and which leads men and women to live with their dignity trampled underfoot. There are many, many throughout the world. Many.

Every injustice inflicted on a person who works tramples on human dignity; and also the dignity of the one who does this injustice. It lowers the level and we end up with that tension that exists between a dictator and a slave. Instead, the vocation that God gives us is so good: to create, to re-create, to work. But this can be done when the conditions are right and the dignity of the person is respected.