In his Labor Day homily at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral on Monday, Los Angeles Coadjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez spoke of the “gift of labor” as a participation in the “work of God.” He urged all of the faithful to work for a world in which the Christian vision of humanity prevails, and “in which our talents are employed to serve our brothers and sisters for the love of God.”
Human labor, the archbishop said, allows men and women to become a part of God's creative activity, and “to rejoice in the harvest of his bounty.” Thus, it belongs to man's nature both to work, and to give thanks to God for the fruits of human labor. Both the work and the fruits, the archbishop taught, are a “gift from above.”
Archbishop Gomez also called attention to the world's ongoing need for a just distribution of God's gifts, which he said should be achieved through acts of social responsibility and charity.
“In this celebration of the Holy Eucharist on this Labor Day,” he noted, “it is fitting that we pray with hearts open for all those who are prevented from knowing God's gifts,” including “all those who are deprived of an honest day's work or fair wages” or who “live under conditions in which their dignity is not respected.”
The word of the Gospel, Archbishop Gomez indicated, is essential to the uplifting of all persons and societies, in accordance with the spiritual and material needs of humanity. He told the congregation, “Our mission is to proclaim Christ and his salvation. All our work for dignity and justice must be rooted in this proclamation.”
“To know Jesus is to know that God is alive, that his love is stronger than sin, injustice, and death,” he stated. “To know Jesus is to know that we are children of God, created in his image and likeness, filled with the breath of his Spirit ... We are beloved children of God. This is the great dignity and destiny of the human person, revealed to us by God's word.”
The Gospel's vision of human dignity, according to the archbishop, inspires Christians to work for many important social causes, such as the rights of the unborn and elderly, justice for workers and immigrants, and humane treatment of prisoners and the poor. This same vision, he said, inspires Christians to work for the preservation of marriage as the bedrock of society.
As an outstanding example of the importance of work and courageous witness, Archbishop Gomez pointed to the life of Blessed Salvador Huerta Gutierrez, who “may be the only auto mechanic the Church has ever recognized in the communion of saints.”
Bl. Gutierrez was known in Guadalajara as the “Magician of Cars,” but “his customers and employees also knew that he was a devout Catholic man, a good husband and a good father to his twelve children.” The archbishop recounted that in 1927, “during the Mexican government's persecution of the Church, this ordinary businessman was called to die for the faith he had lived for.”
After hours of torture, Salvador was brought before a firing squad. Archbishop Gomez recalled the moving last words of the auto mechanic and martyr, as he gripped a candle to his chest: “I put this light on my chest so that you won't fail to hit my heart. I am ready to die for Christ.”
“My friends,” Archbishop Gomez proclaimed, “we may not all be called to martyrdom. But we are all called to give our lives to Christ.” Through daily work and Christian witness, “we are called to 'sow' our lives as seed in the service of his Kingdom.”