Working while the Lord is coming

 In these last Sundays, the liturgy invites us to meditate on the newness of man, on his destiny beyond death. In today's First Reading, the Prophet Malachi speaks to us with strong accents of the end times: Behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven.... And Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of the Mass that we must be on the alert for its coming at the end of the world: Beware that no one deceives you....

Some Christians of the early Church judged this glorious coming of Christ to be imminent. They thought that the end of time was near and so, among other reasons, they neglected their work and were busy doing nothing and getting involved in everything. They deduced that it was not worthwhile, given their precariousness, to devote themselves fully to the affairs here below. That is why St. Paul calls their attention to them, as we read in the Second Reading of the Mass, and reminds them of his own life of work among them, despite their intense labor; he repeats to them again the rule of conduct that he had already advised them: When I lived among you I told you: whoever does not work, let him not eat. And to those who go about doing nothing, he recommends that they work to earn their bread.

Life is really very short and the encounter with Jesus is near; a little later his glorious coming and the resurrection of the bodies will take place. This helps us to be detached from the goods we have to use and to make the most of our time, but in no way exempts us from being fully involved in our own profession and in the very heart of society. Moreover, with our earthly tasks, aided by grace, we are to earn our way to heaven. The Magisterium of the Church recalls the value of work and exhorts "Christians, citizens of the temporal and eternal city, to fulfill their temporal duties faithfully, always guided by the spirit of the Gospel. To imitate Christ, who worked as a craftsman for most of his life, far from neglecting temporal tasks, Christians should "realize that faith itself is a motive that obliges them to the most perfect fulfillment of all of them, according to each one's personal vocation."

This is how we should act in the midst of the world: looking frequently to Heaven, the definitive Homeland, while keeping our feet firmly planted here on earth, working with intensity to give glory to God, attending as best we can to the needs of our own family and serving the society to which we belong. Without serious work, done conscientiously, it is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to sanctify oneself in the midst of the world. Logically, a work done with God's face must conform to the moral norms that make it good and upright. Do I know well these rules that refer to my work in commerce, in the practice of medicine, nursing, law..., the obligation to render for the salary I receive, the just payment to those who work in my company?