For the Good of the Other – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily September 6, 2020

“This weekend of course we observe Labor Day and obviously that is really a civil holiday. It is not a church holiday, but nevertheless Labor Day is a good opportunity for us to stop and think for a few moments on the importance and the dignity of labor that our labor is a very very important part of who we are about and what our life is about. Labor was given to human beings even before the fall of Adam and Eve. It says that they toiled in the garden even before that original sin and so labor is not a curse, but rather labor is a way in which we realize and express and develop ourselves as well as give glory to God. Our labor so often we look upon it just as a way to make money to provide for our material our financial needs, but the fact is that labor is first of all a sharing and a creative power of God. No matter what our work may be whether it’s in the home or in our work outside it is somehow sharing in God’s creative work as we use this creation that God has given us and enable that to grow to become better to be in service of others. It’s a way in which we realize our own personhood as we express ourselves. It’s a point of development of how we can develop our very selves be perfecting ourselves and our abilities and our talents in the God given challenges that have been given to us. Our labor also is a way of service. It’s a service to other people that our labor is not just for ourselves, but truly is for the service of others as well and so we are really challenged to appreciate that gift of labor and to realize that it is the attitude with which we take to our work no matter what that work may be is how we express love for God and love for neighbor which is referred to in our second reading today as St. Paul in the epistle to the Romans talks about love as the highest point as the greatest fulfillment of God’s will and God’s call for us that we are called to be people of love. Owe no one anything more than to love them. I’m always reminded of the statement of St. Augustine, ‘Love and do whatever you will.’ Now that’s a great statement, but I remember in the ‘70’s when that was taught it was kind of a fundamental thing in religious education how much that was abused because there was a feeling that love was a feeling rather than love being a commitment, love being a choice. Feelings are an act of the emotions. Love is an act of the will. It is a commitment to work for the good of the other. That is the basic philosophical definition of love is to be concerned for and work for the good of the other. That takes a tremendous act of the will and we can’t compromise that as many people did in saying, ‘well I love you and so therefore anything else goes.’ No, St. Paul is very clear about that. You can’t steal, you can’t steal, you can’t cheat, you can’t lie, you can’t be an adulterer, you can’t misuse ourselves and still say we love because that is totally false, but love truly is the fulfillment of the law to place others first to truly seek the good of the others in all that we say and do and that’s a challenge for all of us within our lives and it’s a challenge for us even as a nation today as we look at the real call to love each other and there’s so much division and let’s admit it, the power of division comes from the devil. The greatest work of the devil is to divide us, divide us from God, divide us from one another and yet we talk about reconciliation today and we talk about healing. We talk about the need for that within our nation within families within our own hearts within races we need healing not division. This coming Wednesday our Archbishop has invited us to join with others in the United States as a day of prayer and fasting for racial healing that there may be healing within our country that there may be healing among all peoples recognizing the dignity of each and every human person recognizing all as truly creatures of God created in God’s image and likeness and how important it is for us to live that within our lives. Wednesday is the feast day of St. Peter Claver and Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit who went to South America and was in Mission there and his ministry was to care for the ones who were being brought as slaves into the new world and he reached out, he would go aboard the slave ships and minister to them physically, materially, and spiritually that that was his commitment and it is estimated that he touched the lives of over 300,000 people who were in that condition in that state and so what a tremendous model Peter Claver is for racial respect and dignity and how on this day it is an appropriate day for us to pray to fast for racial healing and we pray that St. Peter Claver will intercede for us that he’ll enable all of us to grow more deeply in that spirit of love in which we truly respect the dignity, the value, the worth of each and every human being all of us created in God’s image and likeness. St. Peter Claver, pray for us!”