In our turning of age – work becomes very essential in our life. It is through work that we are able to earn something for our daily sustenance. Through work, we become stable and secure that we are able to support ourselves and our family.
This is just one aspect of work. However, in a consumeristic world, apparently, this has become the emphasis of what it means to work; it becomes self-centered and satisfies one’s self-interest. The different ideologies that have aroused in the 20th Century have fixated work as the object of man’s fulfillment and have disoriented the true meaning of work.
Saint John Paul II defines work in his encyclical Laborem Exercens: “Through work man must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family.” (no. 1) This means that work is not only about satisfying one’s self but also a means of service to the humanity. And with this, our service is directed to God, who is glorified by the work of our hands.
This is what Jesus meant in our Gospel today when he said “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life” (John 6, 27).
He alludes to the crowd who were looking for him that far beyond the material bread that they have received is bread that will satisfy one’s longing that lasts for life.
It is not only through the five loaves and two fishes that man is satisfied but the Bread of Life that comes from heaven, as Moses has fed Manna (literally ‘the bread from heaven’) to the Israelites in our First Reading today (see Exodus 16, 2-4. 12-15). And that Manna comes to life in a very tangible way through Jesus, who offers himself to be fed as the Bread” (see Second Reading, Eph 4, 17. 24).
In the Holy Eucharist, we found this as a concrete expression of how God is glorified through the work of our hands. The words of the priest himself when he offers the bread and wine during the Offertory rite of the Liturgy of the Eucharist allows us to appreciate and understand the latter concept: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread/wine we offer you: fruit of the earth/vine and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life/our spiritual drink.”
Let us always put in mind, therefore, dear fellow young people, that when we go to work or find a work for our living, that we put God above all as we owe the work of our hands to Him. And with that, our work should lead us, not only to satisfy our own desires, but as a means of offering our service to the humanity, leading us to the fullness of life. It should evoke in us a sense of gratitude as we go to Mass especially on Sundays so as to give thanks to God for the many blessings that we have received, especially with our work.