Archbishop José Gomez, the archbishop of Los Angeles, has written a fine column on the occasion of what would have been the 85th birthday of Cesar Chavez (“our brother Cesar Chavez” is how Gomez puts it) on March 31. The Archbishop recalls Chavez’s important work and the reflects:
César understood a truth that is still not widely known — that the Catholic Church is the first institution in human history to respect the dignity of work….
We have a crisis of work in our society today. Not only are millions out of work. Millions more are also confused about what work means and what work is for.
Our society has reduced work to a materialistic and “functionalistic” idea. Whether it is white collar or blue collar, industrial or service, manual or intellectual — we see work as nothing more than a means to a material end. A means to make money. A means to get things done. That’s why, among those fortunate enough to have jobs, we see some who are “workaholics” while others are just working for the weekend.
None of this is what God intended for human labor.
César got it right when he said: “Work is a sacred thing … Every individual is endowed with dignity.”
Our current economic crisis demands that all of us — workers, business owners and political leaders — pledge ourselves to work together for the common good.
The entire piece is here.
(Though Archbishop Gomez does not mention it, this March 31 is also the 50th anniversary of the day Chavez quit his full time work to devote himself completely to organizing farmworkers. My own article marking the occasion is slated to appear in an upcoming issue of America magazine.)