The Christmas Break has come to an end, although the Christmas season continues! We continue to meditate on the mystery of Christmas as we return to the daily activities, the daily work of our ordinary lives. The mystery of Christmas should give us a fresh perspective though. Jesus became one of us. We just had in our readings the story of his birth and early childhood, and the story of when he was 12 and remained in Jerusalem when his parents were returning home, but after that we don’t hear about his life until he is in his 30’s. For 18 years he spent time doing ordinary things while praying about his mission in life. He worked, side-by-side with Joseph doing everyday, ordinary things, and he grew in wisdom.
The USCCB, when writing on stewardship, notes the following:
“Development of this world through noble human effort—physical labor, the trades and professions, the arts and sciences. We call such effort "work." Work is a fulfilling human vocation.
The Second Vatican Council points out that, through work, we build up not only our world but the Kingdom of God, already present among us. Work is a partnership with God—our share in a divine human collaboration in creation. It occupies a central place in our lives as Christian stewards.”
It is through our daily activity that we have the possibility of participation in the mystery of work. If we seek to Master our trade, and then move from Masters to Artists within the trade, we will encounter God. Louis Pasteur is often quoted as saying, “A little science leads away from God, but much science leads you to him”. The same could be said of Philosophy- a little of it, especially focusing on modern thinkers, leads one away from God- but much of it, especially following the history of philosophy, leads back to God. St. Thomas Aquinas, after a lifetime of brilliant study in the discipline of theology, had a vision of heaven and afterwards stopped writing, saying, “All I have written is straw”.
The three Kings, whom we reflect on this weekend, found God in their knowledge of the stars. They studied, knew the paths of the stars, and saw one star that brought them all to the same conclusion- something Great was happening in the West. And they came from the East to find Jesus.
There is an invitation for us to follow their example- not by turning to astrology, but by becoming so proficient in our crafts that we marvel at the depth of the mysteries therein, that we find God there.
As we return to our ordinary lives and ordinary time, let us remember that after the Incarnation nothing can truly be ordinary, and let us seek out God in the ordinary work we do day after day
Fr. Adam Westphal