Work – A sharing in God’s work of creation

The Second Vatican Council stresses that throughout the course of the centuries, men have laboured to better the circumstances of their lives through individual and collective effort. Man, created in the image of God, by his work, shares in the activity of the Creator. Within the limits of man’s own human capabilities, he continues to develop the activity of the Creator and perfects it as he advances further and further in discovering the resources and values contained in the whole of creation. This truth is found at the very beginning of the book of Genesis. Creation itself is presented in the form of “work” done by God in “six days”, ‘resting” on the seventh day. We also take note that the last book of the Bible echoes the same respect for what God has done through his creative “work” when it proclaims: “Great and wonderful are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty”. This is similar to the Book of Genesis which concludes the description of each day of creation with the statement: “And God saw that it was good”. This description of creation shows the dignity of work. It teaches that man ought to imitate God, his Creator, in working, because man alone has the unique characteristic of likeness to God. Man ought to imitate God both in working and also in resting, since God Himself wished to present his own creative activity under the form of work and rest. This activity by God in the world always continues, as the words of Christ attest: “My father is still working…” (John 5:17): “He works with creative power by sustaining in existence the world that he called into being from nothing, and he works with salvific power in the hearts of those whom from the beginning, he has destined for rest in union with himself in his Father’s house.”

Indeed, man’s work is a participation in God’s activity or in God’s “work” of creation. The awareness of this reality ought to permeate even the most ordinary everyday activities. While providing the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society at large. By our labor we continue to unfold the work of the Creator. By our work we contribute through our personal industry to the realization of God’s divine plan in history. In other words, by our work, as we participate in God’s “work” of creation, we help in perfecting the world. The knowledge that by means of work man shares in the work of creation constitutes the most profound motive for undertaking such work in various sectors. We must learn the deepest meaning and the value of all creation and the orientation of creation to the praise of God. Even by our secular activities we must assist one another to live holier lives. In this way the world will be permeated by the spirit of Christ and more effectively achieve its purpose in justice, charity, and peace. Therefore, by our competence in secular fields and by our personal activity, elevated from within by the grace of Christ, we work hard so that by human labour, technical skills, and civil culture, created goods may be perfected according to the design of the Creator and the light of his Word (Lumen Gentium—The Church in the Modern World).