When Jesus looks for those who are to follow him, he does so among men accustomed to work. Master, we have been working all night..., those who would be his first disciples tell him. All night long, in hard work, because it is necessary for them to live, because they are fishermen. St. Paul has left us his own example and that of those who accompanied him: we toil with our own hands. And to the first Christians in Thessalonica he writes: we did not eat our bread for nothing at the expense of another, but with labor and toil, working night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. St. Paul did not devote himself to work for mere recreation and distraction," says St. John Chrysostom, "but he made such an effort that he was able to provide for his own needs and those of others. A man who ruled over the demons, who was master of the whole universe, who was entrusted with the inhabitants of towns, nations and cities, whom he cared for with all solicitude; such a man worked day and night. We," continues the saint, "who do not have the least part of his concerns, what excuses will we have? We have no excuse for not working with intensity, with perfection, without sloppiness.
To work well, it is first necessary to work industriously, making good use of the hours, because it is difficult, perhaps impossible, for those who do not make good use of their time to become accustomed to sacrifice and to keep their spirit awake, to live the most elementary human virtues. A life without work corrupts itself, and often corrupts what is around it. "Iron that lies idle, consumed by rust, becomes soft and useless; but if it is employed in work, it is much more useful and beautiful, and scarcely lags behind silver itself. Land that is left waste produces nothing wholesome, but weeds, thistles and thorns and fruitless plants; but that which is cultivated, becomes full of soft fruits. And, to put it in a word, every being is corrupted by idleness and improved by the activity that is proper to him. "8 And this is equally true for the mother of a family who must dedicate many hours to her home and to the education of her children, for the self-employed, or for the student, the head of a company and the worker who occupies the last place in a chain of production.
The Lord asks of us a human work well done, in which intensity, order, science, competence, eagerness for perfection are put into it; a task that has no unfinished corners, no blemishes and no mistakes. Serious work that not only looks good, but is really good. It does not matter whether it is manual or intellectual, of execution or organization, whether it is witnessed by others of greater responsibility or none at all. The Christian adds something new to work: in addition to the above, he does it for God, to whom every day he presents it as an offering that will remain in eternity; but the manner - responsible, competent, intense... - is the normal one of all honest work. A task carried out in this way dignifies the one who performs it and gives glory to its Creator; natural gifts are made to yield and it becomes a continuous praise to God.
Because we want to follow Christ closely and try to imitate him, we must add to our tasks a greater perfection, because at all times we keep in mind the Master, who did everything well. Let us examine today in prayer the human quality of our tasks, of our studies, and let us see with the Lord those aspects in which they can be improved: intensity, punctuality, finishing well what we have begun with enthusiasm, order, care of the instruments of work....