05/01/2020, 17.00
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Pope: let there be work for everyone, with fair wages

“Work is what makes man similar to God, because through work man creates, he can create, create many things, even create a family to go forth. Man is a creator and creates through work. This is the calling.”


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis introduced the Mass he celebrated this morning at Casa Santa Marta, on the day the Church celebrates Saint Joseph the Worker, by expressing the hope that everyone can find work, as work makes humans similar to God, and that they receive a just wage.

“Today, the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, the day dedicated to workers, let us pray for all workers, that no one be without work and that all be paid a just wage. May they benefit from the dignity of work and the beauty of rest.”

In his homily, the pontiff reflected on the day’s reading (Gen 1:27) on the creation of men and women, saying that their dignity is found in work and through work, and so doing they continue the work of the Creator.

“’God created’ (Gen 1:27). [He is] A Creator. He created the world, created man and gave man a mission: to manage, work, and carry on creation. And the word 'work' is the one the Bible uses to describe this activity of God: ‘On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken’ (Gen 2:2), and God hands over this activity to man saying: You must do this, keep that, the other; it is like he is saying, you must work with me to create this work so that it can continue (cf. Gen 2:15,19-20). Thus, work is the continuation of God’s work; human work is the calling man received from God at the end of the creation of the universe.”

“Work is what makes man similar to God, because through work man creates, he can create, create many things, even create a family to go forth. Man is a creator and creates through work. This is the calling. The Bible says that God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.’ (Gen 1:31). Thus, work is inherently good and creates the harmony of things – beauty, goodness – and involves man in everything: in his thoughts, in his action, everything. Man is involved in working. It is man’s first calling: working. This gives dignity to man, the dignity that makes him resemble God. [This is] The dignity of work.”

History reminds us of the “brutality inflicted on slaves,” Francis said. “But even today there are many slaves, many men and women who are not free to work,” who “are forced to work, to survive, nothing more. They are slaves: forced labour . . . There is forced labour, unfair, poorly paid that lead man to live with trampled dignity. There are many, many in the world. Many. A few months ago, we read in the newspapers that in an Asian country, a man beat an employee who earned less than half a dollar a day because he had done something wrong. Today's slavery is our 'in-dignity' because it takes away dignity from men, women, and all of us.”

“Let us think about workers, about day labourers, who are made to work at a low wage; not eight, but twelve, fourteen hours a day. This happens today, here; all over the world, but here too. Think about the domestic workers who do no have fair wages, who do not have social security, who cannot retire. This does not happen only in Asia. [It happens] Here.”

"Every act of injustice inflicted on a worker means trampling on human dignity, even the dignity of the one committing the act of injustice: it lowers standards and leads to dictator-slave tensions. By contrast, the calling that God gives us is so beautiful: [it is] to create, re-create, work. But this can be done only when the conditions are right and the dignity of the person is respected.”

"Today we join the many men and women, believers and non-believers, who celebrate May Day, Labour Day, for those who struggle for justice at work, for those – good employers – who do their job with justice, even if they get less. Two months ago, I spoke to an employer on the phone here in Italy who asked me to pray for him because he didn't want to lay off anyone, ‘Because laying off one of them is like laying off myself.’ Many employers are good, with a conscience. They keep workers as if they were their offspring. Let us pray for them too.”

In the final prayer, the pontiff said “May Saint Joseph help us fight for the dignity of work, so that there is work for everyone and that it is dignified work, not the work of a slave. Let this be today’s prayer.”

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