6.16 How can my job serve God? Do I have a right to work? Is unemployment unchristian? What if I have to choose between church and work?
God ordered the first people to ‘work the earth’ (Gen 2:15). This includes any useful activity, also at home or as a volunteer. Work is a way to realise our human dignity and to serve God so that we can strive for holiness. Therefore, work is a human right which comes with the responsibility of doing a proper job.
If work is a human right, then its absence is appalling. Also in Jesus’ time certain people were unemployed, and he praises a man who offered them a job (Mt 20:1-16). We need to do what we can to create jobs for everyone. You may sometimes have to choose between going to work or going to church, but let that never become a choice between work and God. We are not here to honour the Sunday, so an occasional ‘working Sunday’ is no problem. But do try to keep Sundays free in general, for they are here to remind us of Jesus, our need for rest, and to give our undivided attention to God at regular intervals.
What is the vocation of the lay faithful?
The lay faithful have as their own vocation to seek the Kingdom of God by illuminating and ordering temporal affairs according to the plan of God. They carry out in this way their call to holiness and to the apostolate, a call given to all the baptized [CCCC 188].
How do the lay faithful participate in the priestly office of Christ?
They participate in it especially in the Eucharist by offering as a spiritual sacrifice “acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5) their own lives with all of their works, their prayers, their apostolic undertakings, their family life, their daily work and hardships borne with patience and even their consolations of spirit and body. In this way, even the laity, dedicated to Christ and consecrated by the Holy Spirit, offer to God the world itself [CCCC 189].
Some opportune remedy must be found quickly for the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class: for the ancient workingmen's guilds were abolished in the last century, and no other protective organization took their place… working men have been surrendered, isolated and helpless, to the hardheartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked competition [Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, 3].