Here is another great reflection on worker justice and the Christmas holiday written by Sister Maureen McDonnell. For similar reflections check out our resources page!
Christmas, great Feast of Light, is here! “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (Isaiah 9:1)
Jesus of Nazareth identified himself with Isaiah and other great Hebrew prophets, growing to know himself as Bringer of Light and fulfillment of ancient prophecies … the One (among many) whose mission was to denounce injustice and announce a new way of being.
From his extraordinary life and teaching, those who call themselves Catholic, have evolved a long tradition of Catholic Social Teaching, articulated and summarized in modern times through a number of official teaching documents of Church leaders. The first of these was written by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, titled Rerum Novarum (On the Conditions of Labor). In it, he “laid out the rights and responsibilities of both owners and laborers, promoting workers’ rights to organize into associations to seek just wages and improve working conditions, and called for a more equitable distribution of property and goods.” (JLeonard document cited above)
Major themes of these teachings, up to and including the 2009 document by Pope Benedict XVI on Integral Development of People in Charity and Truth , encompass the dignity of the human person, solidarity of the human family, option for the poor and vulnerable, the common good, the sacredness of work, creation, and ecological responsibility.
Darkness and gloom seem to cover our Earth at times. But at Christmas we focus on the light that can come through each of us living according to our “best lights,” gleaned from our complementary traditions and the many strong witnesses who show us how to kindle that light … that fire, which warms and illuminates our world. May we strive to be faithful to incarnating/enfleshing the challenges of our traditions. Pope John Paul II in 1981 expressed part of the Catholic commitment in this way: “We must …study the situation of the worker. There is a need for solidarity movements among and with the workers. The Church is firmly committed to this cause, in fidelity to Christ, and to (being) truly the “Church of the poor.”
An excellent resource on implementing Catholic Social Teaching is www.paxchristiusa.org
May our Light shine!