After COVID-19, will we employees who worked remotely want to return to our previous environment or will we prefer to continue working from home? More importantly, does our attitude toward work draw us closer to God and others or do we look upon our job as a “perfunctory adjustment to the unavoidable” which has little or nothing to do with Christian community and personal spirituality?
The desire to work is deeply embedded within our human nature. We should always prefer the virtue of creativity over the deadly vice of sloth or laziness. Why? In the very first sentence of the very first book of the bible we gain a profound insight into God’s nature. God is a worker! “In the beginning…God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1). Since we are made in God’s image, our likeness is to favor creating as well.
May, a month generally honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, begins with the feast of St. Joseph the Worker! While celebrating labor as a virtue may not have held our attention in the past, this coronavirus has made us painfully aware of how problematic the idea of “going to work” can be. We have become more appreciative of the fact that having a job is not limited to making money, buying food, or paying bills. Being industrious is part of our co-creative nature from God. Work is good for us. So, this May 1 Catholic commemoration of the Guardian of the Holy Family in his workshop comes at an opportune time.
At the beginning of this millennium only 3.3 percent of all employees worked from home. By 2017, due to internet advances, that number had risen to just over 5 percent, or approximately 8 million, of the 157 million people in the US workforce. For many people, this 2020 pandemic brought with it the requirement to work wearing protective gear, or work from home, or not work at all. As we emerge from the clutches of this evil disease and the confines of our close-quartered abodes, we may be wondering: will online education, social distancing, take-out menus and live-streaming church attendance become, if not a “new normal” at least a more acceptable norm?
We can reasonably distinguish between work that can be completed via the web and jobs that will almost always require a commute. For example, careers like information technology, financial investing, insurance, real estate rentals and leasing already comprised 40 percent of our “teleworkers” before this pandemic arrived. Going forward, occupations that are least likely to work from home for obvious reasons will include construction, maintenance, transportation, direct health care, sports, arts and entertainment, mining and waste management. Either way, will our employment location enable us to bring more Christian creativity to the table, whether that is a conference table or our kitchen table?
For Holy Homework: Sometime during this month, let’s create something to remind us how blessed we are to have the virtue of work in our lives. What we decide to create is not the focus here. Depending upon our God-given talents we can build something as complicated as a multi-story birdhouse or as simple as a flower arrangement on a windowsill. The goal is to produce; to bring ourselves closer to our Creator through whatever it is we create.
When we finish, let’s position our creation where we can see it every day for at least the next 30 days and each time we look at it let’s offer a prayer of supplication for a rapid end to COVID-19 so that we may all return to work—online or offline—safely and soon.
St. Joseph the Worker pray for us.
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