"Night and Day We Worked"
Homily for November 18, 2007
33rd Sunday in Ordinary time (33C)
By Fr. Phil Bloom
Bottom line: Give every moment to God and you will be amazed at the opportunities he gives you.
In today's second reading, St. Paul tells us that he worked "night and day." You and I might be tempted to say, "Well, good for him." The problem is that the Apostle mentions this not just as a personal choice, but as a "model" for us, an example he wants us to follow.
Now, I don't think Paul was an early version of the American workaholic.* On the contrary, in the course of his long voyages, he found plenty of time for quiet reflection, study, writing, conversation, stargazing and other activities we would call "leisure." And when he did settle in a city for a few month or a few years, he spent time getting to know the people and the lay of the land.
To earn a living, St. Paul made tents.** He did not shrink from manual labor and the organizational tasks involved in operating a small business. Besides the work involved in making a good product, the tent-making business required constant attentiveness, planning and follow through. He had to keep track of his tools and inventory, study the market and cultivate clients. He worked night and day, but, even so, his business did not absorb every moment of his time. He had a deeper focus: bringing Jesus' saving love to every person he could.
St. Paul's example speaks volumes about Stewardship. It doesn't matter whether you are part of a profession or part of the service industry, whether you are a student or retired - you are called to work night and day. That is, God asks you to recognize that every moment belongs to him. Give every moment to God and you will be amazed: He will give you time for legitimate leisure and the opportunity to make a living by providing a needed service to others. Above all, he will open doors so that you can help someone receive Christ's saving love.
*In a different homily I tried to show that being a workaholic often masks deep sloth.
**Fr. Tommy Lane gives this description of St. Paul's work as a tentmaker: "Luke tells us he (Paul) worked as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). Also note the references to labouring in the following: 2 Cor 6:5; 11:23,27. There was a large demand for tents at that time. Tentmaker was a good choice because they were needed everywhere. For example, there was a tentmakers’ union in Rome, the theatre was covered by tent, the Colosuem was covered by tent to protect people from the sun. Corinth was the home of the Ismian games every second year in the Spring. There was never a village there, just a temple and the municipality was responsible for putting up tents. If you traveled on a boat, you had your little tent. A tentmaker could repair anything. He had to presume everyone else was a thief, because if he lost his tools he would be finished. Therefore Paul may have slept on his chest on top of his tools."