17 March 2010: Wednesday in the 4th Week of Lent
Isaiah 49, 8-15; Psalm 145; John 5, 17-30
Working is not new to us. In fact, many of us complain about work and wish we are a people who don’t have to work. We envy those with resources; just by sitting pretty in their couches and watching television, millions are deposited in their bank accounts. If we all stop working, do you think we will be happy?
Jesus says in the Gospel, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” Let us reflect on this words. Physics defines work as a force applied through a distance when the two share the same direction: Work = force x distance. That means that work has been done when there is effort expended and a movement. If you push a wall, and it did not move, there is force, but no movement, then there is no work. If you push a chair and it moved to cover a distance, then there is work done. Thus, in Physics, there are two basic elements: force and distance.
Second, in Project Management, work is defined as the effort applied to produce a deliverable or accomplish a task. Thus, there is effort and there is movement which is an accomplish task.
Third, in Art, as artwork or work of art, work is a creation, such as a song or a painting: an effort has been creatively done to produce a creation.
In all of these fields of activities, there are two basic elements: there is effort and there is movement, whether the movement is a distance, a new accomplishment, or a new creation.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, says in his Contemplatio ad Amorem, that God continually works in all of creation, and that includes us — work is done if God has exerted His effort on us, and we have moved somehow, whether the growth is physical as we grow taller and our body organs maximizes its performance, emotional as we improve on our relationships, psychological as we mature in our outlook and response to the external environment, and spiritual as we acquire depth and wisdom. Thus, Ignatius says that God exerts effort on us through grace, and we move because of it. If we have to evaluate the work of God, we do not have a doubt about his excellence on his job.
There is a parallel process though: that as God exerts tremendous effort on us and Jesus labors for us, we are challenged to make use of our talents and to take the initiative. Second, just as God makes things move in all creation and Jesus tries to help us develop, we are challenged to cooperate with God so that we are able to move on in our lives; we are able to walk a certain distance in our lives; we are able to accomplish some things or contribute or create some things to society.
In the end, work enables us to be human. It gives us dignity and self-worth. If we stop working, we’re dead.
Therefore in this Season of Lent, we can reflect on our lives: Have you moved on in your life after some painful pasts? Have you covered some distance? Have you achieved some thing that contributed to the development of humankind?
Or, are you stuck in life? What or who prevents you from moving on, from accomplishing something, from creating something?
Even if God has done His job, if we are not able to cooperate with Him, as Jesus who also participates in the work, then you have not gone somewhere at all. In Scripture, it means to bear fruit. All of us are expected to bear good fruits. Thus, all of us are expected to work.