Aleteia

Pope Francis: Work Hard for the Glory of God, Don’t “Live Off” Others

Pope Francis general audience - St Peter's square © Giulio Napolitano / Shutterstock.com
<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=170340788&src=id" target="_blank" />Pope Francis general audience - St Peter's square</a> © Giulio Napolitano / Shutterstock.com
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Pope also reveals scripturally based weight loss plan

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Wednesday praised hard work as an essential aspect of God’s design for the family, and he applauded personal readiness to contribute to the common good rather than “Iiving off the backs” of others.

Speaking to pilgrims in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall during his weekly catechesis, the Pope said “the nicest thing one can say about a serious, honest person is: ‘he’s a worker.’”

The Pope denounced idleness, citing St. Paul’s injunction to the early Christians: “If anyone will not work, let him not eat,”(2 Thess. 3:10). 

“That’s a recipe for losing weight,” the Pope joked. “You don’t work, you don’t eat!”  

Yet he made clear that St. Paul “was referring explicitly to the false spiritualism of some who lived off the backs of their brothers and sisters, while ‘not doing any work’” (2 Thess 3:11). 

Pope Francis explained that an authentic Christian vision of life sees work and man’s spiritual life intimately connected, as the father of Western monasticism — St. Benedict — taught. To St. Benedict, in fact, are traditionally ascribed two mottos: “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ”; and “Ora et labora,” i.e. pray and work.

“A lack of work harms the spirit, just as a lack of prayer detracts from practical activity,” the pontiff said.

Work, the Holy Father explained further, is proper to the human person. It expresses his dignity of being created in the image of God. “That is why we say that work is sacred,” he added.

Work also enables families to care and provide for their children and lead a dignified life, the Pope continued. And it is in the family that children first learn how to work for the common good and the glory of God.

“The family teaches children to work through the example of their parents: the father and mother who work for the good of their family and society,” he said.

We find the greatest example of “a family of workers” in the Holy Family of Nazareth, and in the Gospels, Jesus himself is called the ‘son of the carpenter’ (Mt 13:55) or even ‘the carpenter’ (Mk 6:3).  

In unscripted remarks the Pope said: “I am sad when I see that there are people out of work, who cannot find work and do not have the dignity of bringing home their daily bread. And I rejoice very much when I see governments endeavor to create jobs and to see that that everyone has a job.”

Citing the account of Creation contained in the book of Genesis, the Pope said work, like celebration, are part of God’s plan for the human family, the Pope explained. 

“It’s not romanticism; it’s divine revelation,” he boldly said. “And we are responsible for understanding and implementing it.”

Pope Francis explained that his recent encyclical on the envoirnment Laudato si’, which he said sets forth an “integral ecology,” contains this message: “the beauty of the earth and the dignity of work go hand in hand.” 

“When work is detached from God’s covenant with man and woman, and it is separated from its spiritual qualities, when work is held hostage by the logic of profit-alone and a disregard for human life, the poisoning of the soul contaminates everything: even the air, the water, the grass, food … the life of society is corrupted and the environment breaks down,” he said, adding that “it is the poorest, and the poorest families, who are affected most of all.” 

“The modern organization of work sometimes shows a dangerous tendency to consider  the family a burden, a weight, a liability for labor productivity,” he said. “But let us ask ourselves: what productivity? And for whom? The so-called ‘smart-city’ undoubtedly has a wealth of services and organization; but it is often hostile to children and the elderly.”

God has given Christian families the challenge and mission to make present the foundations of his creation: a true understanding of the identity of man and woman and the bond they share, their call to bring children into the world, and the gift of work in making the world ever more fruitful and hospitable.  

The Holy Father concluded, praying: “May God help us to embrace this call in joy and hope, especially amidst the many challenges we face today.”

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.