Lovers of a Thankless Job
Fr. Wilfredo Samson, SJ
The Christmas season just ended. Christmas trees, lights, and lanterns are probably still up though. In spite of our comments against a too commercialized Christmas, I must admit, I greatly enjoy window- shopping and viewing Christmas decors all the over the city. But one day, it dawned on me that these beautiful Christmas decorations are labors of love by ordinary workers. We did not see them work. It was a thankless job.
Nobody appreciates “silent workers.” They usually do their job at night. They are at the back stage; and they work to “prepare something” for others. Their job is a thankless job. Seldom do we appreciate the cook who prepares our food. Seldom do we thank the janitors who clean the conference hall before and after the party. Rarely do we see the tears of our thousands of OFWs who did not come home last Christmas. Nobody notices their hard work and sacrifices. Their life is a thankless life.
John the Baptist did another thankless job. He prepared the way for the arrival of Jesus by exhorting the people to repent (Mark 1: 1-3). His mission was crystal clear for John – just to prepare the way of the Lord. And nobody appreciated his contribution to the works of salvation. Herod even beheaded John. It was another thankless job.
But like John the Baptist, we are also being challenged to become WORKERS FOR THE FUTURE. We are asked to work for peace in Mindanao so that our future generation will live in peace. We are tasked to protect our environment so that our children will have trees to climb and clean rivers to swim. It is our responsibility to teach Christian values to our children, to assure ourselves of good and God-fearing leaders in the future. But to work for peace, environment, and formation of children is another thankless job. Nobody seems to care and support us.
William Barclay said, “In youth, because I could not be a singer, I did not even write a song. I set no little trees along the roadside because I knew their growth would take so long. But now from the wisdom that the years have brought me, I know that it may be a blessed thing to plant a tree for someone else to water or make a song for someone else to sing.”
Let’s ask ourselves this as we enter the Ordinary Time and reflect on the blessings of the Christmas season just passed: “Do I consciously work hard for a better future? What are my small and daily contributions? We want peace in our society, but what am I doing about it? I dream of a happy family, but how much time am I dedicating to my family?
Let’s commit ourselves to building the future we don’t own. We are workers for our children and nation’s future. Our determination to work for a good future is not merely based on our social responsibility but on the spiritual responsibility. Let’s discover the “John the Baptist” in us. We may not see the fruits of our labors, but that’s the meaning of being a John the Baptist. God calls us to prepare the way so that others may live to the fullest.
We are workers for the future generations. We may not see the end result of our hard work, apostolate, and advocacies. People may not recognize our sacrifices. Our work may end up like another thankless job. But don’t fret. Any work done with love will create a ripple effect in our future.
Let this prayer of Archbishop Oscar Romero inspire us to continue working for the Kingdom of God.
A STEP ALONG THE WAY
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders;
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.