An encyclical by JPII in 1981. I discovered this documents during a logos session where basil shared about a website that organize the Vatican website. During my first visit, I just run through the list of the encyclical of pope Ben XVI. However, since my favorite pope is JPII I went to his list. There is one title that gain my interest, about work, entitled laborem exercens. I am interested simply because I am currently thinking about work, how to choose a suitable job in the future and etc.

From the first paragraph I learned that through work man must earn his daily bread, and also contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family.

The definition of work in this letter is any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very nature, by virtue of humanity itself.

In my first reflection based on this letter I am aiming to extract the points on the meaning of Work for Man.

The meaning of Work

The meaning of work is described an activity that only man is capable of doing because of man’s very nature, created in the likeness of the Creator. Man’s work also reflects the work of the Creator. This activity begins in the human subject and directed towards an external object. This activity related to the keyword to subdue the earth. In fact the last sentence of chapter 4 of the encyclical is “Each and every individual, to the proper extent and in an incalculable number of ways, takes part in the giant process whereby man “subdues the earth” through his work.”

One meaning of man’s is a calling by the Creator to subdue the earth through his work. However, why is the earth need to be subdued in the first place? Why the Creator called His creation to do so? In the light of the Genesis 1, man is created in the likeness of the Creator, such that man’s work also reflects the work of the Creator. One possible reason of these questions is that the Creator is inviting man to participate in the Work that He is doing. Participation of the divine Work of the Creator of the Universe is reflected by the subduing of the earth through man’s work. The earth is also a result of the work of the Creator. I can’t help my self to think that the Creator is like a father who is preparing a playground for His children. By playing in this playground, they will be nurtured and become more human, in the likeness of the Father.

Lets not asking about why, but how, because the divine invitation is a privilege, and asking why is like asking why He loves us at the first place. We know He loves man without any reason; the unconditional love of God towards man is incomprehensible by man. Therefore, my question is how to accept the invitation that is translated into my real life? In this current world, how could we see work as a divine work that reflects the work of the creator? How could man subdue the earth through his work?

Lets meditate on working. Working is simply doing a task, or having a job, which means having a set of task for a certain period and for an institution. Upon finishing the work man will receive remuneration as agreed by both parties, the one who give the work, the employer and the one who are doing the work, the employee. The remuneration is hence used to be exchanged with something man’s necessity, whether it is primary needs such as food, house, clothing without which man cant survive, or secondary needs such as technology and instrument that have the function for transportation, telecommunication, and entertainment.

Man and Work

In this letter, our late pope also reflects on the meaning of works in the objective sense, subjective sense and spiritual sense.

Work in the Subjective Sense: Man as the Subject of Work

Man is given an order by the Creator ( genesis 1 :26-28) to participate in the work of the Creator, and therefore Man is the subject of Work.

Man in his nature, created in the likeness of the Creator is capable of acting in a planned and rational way, capable of deciding about himself and with a tendency to a self-realization.

The Objective Sense of Work : Technology

Technology also as the fruit of Man’s work should become man’s ally to facilitate, perfects, accelerates and augments the work of man.

A spirituality of Work

The work of man is also a sharing of activity with the Creator. I am particular on the part of human work in the light of the cross and the resurrection of Christ, which pope JPII shared on the last section of the letter.

All work whether manual or intellectual is inevitably linked with toil. Sweat and toil, which work necessarily involves the present condition of the human race, present the Christian and everyone who is called to follow Christ with the possibility of sharing lovingly in the work that Christ came to do. This work of salvation came about through suffering and death on a Cross-. By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity. He shows himself a true disciple of Christ by carrying the cross in his turn every day in the activity that he is called upon to perform.

I would like to end the sharing on my study and reflection on Laborem exercens. I hope any of you may have the interest to read the encyclical so that we may be able to discuss and share with one another, because I believe I would be able to learn from all of you. I pray that God the Father may provide me with more insight to the Truth through the Holy Spirit, especially in regards of the topic of Work.

Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum

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