By Rosemary Thompson, Executive Director, P. Francis Murphy Initiative for Justice and Peace*
Perhaps the most magnificent teaching of our Catholic faith is the beauty of the Mystical Body. The concept that “what happens to one – happens to all” is both a call and an obligation. We are bound to one another through the love and grace of Jesus. There is something radical and essential in these simple words. We cannot live without one another. Nor can we allow suffering to occur without confronting the source and comforting the victim. As we approach Labor Day 2011 this teaching takes on even more meaning.
On June 29, 1894, The U.S. Congress voted to create Labor Day as a national holiday to honor working people’s contribution to society. Fast forward to September 2011 where unemployment in our nation is more than 9 percent—for people of color as high as 17 percent. These terrible statistics reflect a culture that spends more on war and weapons than on the needs of its people. And yet, we know that God hears the cry of the poor and marginalized. Our society is filled with people longing for full and satisfying employment. We need jobs that are fair, life-giving and just.
Labor Day needs to be more than symbolic or the last hurrah of summer. Labor Day can and should be a day of commitment to seek justice for all workers. The legacy of the American worker is rich. We cannot afford to stay on the slippery slope of wealthy bosses and unhappy workers who spend their days with too little income or self- esteem.
Labor Day is in fact a promise and a celebration of what we are called to become: A community where each of us has meaningful work at a just pay in a safe environment and where we all have adequate education, good medical care and safe housing.
We are the Mystical Body and what happens to one, happens to all.
*The Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart is a sponsor of the P. Francis Murphy Justice and Peace Initiative (Murphy Initiative), which works collaboratively for social justice and peace. For more information on the Murphy Initiative programs go to: PFMjpi@missionhelpeprs.org.