The Following excerpts are from Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical on "work" Laborem Exercens (Sept. 14, 1981) :Man is made to be in the visible universe and image and likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work....man's life is built up every day from work, from work it derives its specific dignity, but at the same time work contains the unceasing measure of human toil and suffering, and also of the harm and injustice which penetrate deeply into social life within individual nations and on the international level.
But the church considers it her task always to call attention to the dignity and rights of those who work, to condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated...
...the fact that the one Who, while being God, became like us in all things "devoted most of the years of his life on earth to manual work at the carpenter's bench. This circumstance constitutes in itself the most eloquent 'gospel of work,' showing that the basis for determining the value of human work is not primarily the kind of work being done, but the fact that the one who is doing it is a person.
...the primary basis of the value of work is man himself, who is its subject. ... However true it may be that man is destined for work and called to it, in the first place work is "for man" and not man "for work."To sum up:Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. Human work in a sense reflects God’s work and, therefore, has dignity.
Jesus Christ did physical labor for a great part of his life on earth. So, physical work is not of less value than mental work; the ditch digging has the same dignity as organizing a corporation.
A person must not be defined by his or her work. One is not the object of work, say in order to produce more money or to make technological progress. Each person is the subject, meaning each has an essential worth in the eyes of God. Each person should have this worth in the eyes of fellow men.We thank and honor all who build up our nation and our world by the work that they do.
Happy Labor Day!