On Work and the Family
In his Wednesday general audience today, August 19, 2015, Pope Francis spoke about the connection between the activity of work and the family. He stated that work is necessary to build, support, and nurture the family and to cultivate a sense of dignity within the family. Work also benefits the human family at large by contributing to the common good. Within the family, children learn the value of hard working by observing their parents, who work both for the good of the family and for the good of society.
Pope Francis explained the biblical support for viewing work as “proper to the human person” and expressive of the human person’s creation in the image and likeness of God. The Holy Family is “a family of workers”; both St. Joseph and Jesus were carpenters. St. Paul encouraged Christians to combine prayer and work, and warns the Christian community that “if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). In the Old Testament, the Genesis creation story speaks of the earth as a garden tilled by God, who passes that work onto the family of Adam and Eve. Drawing on these biblical passages, the Holy Father stated, “Work is sacred. Work gives dignity to a family.”
The Pope also mentioned his encyclical Laudato Si. When the working family is “hostage to the sole logic of profit,” the whole earth suffers. In fact, those who feel this suffering the most are the poorest families. When the modern working environment considers the family “a burden” and “a weight,” we should remember that productivity is meant to be for the good of the family, not for its subjugation. When work – or lack of it – makes it difficult for families to thrive, “the human society has begun to work against itself!”
The Holy Father concluded his audience by acknowledging the difficulty of transforming the work environment to be family-centered. He compared this challenge to the story of David and Goliath, in which God’s grace enabled a great obstacle to be overcome.