On the 5th day of CPO began with Br. Fernando presenting on the theme of “Work in the Bible”. He as a Biblical scholar with deep and solid knowledge of the Biblical world did a fabulous job in presenting the meaning and significance of work in Bible and how we Capuchins need to look at work in that sense. He said that we, Capuchins need to enter into the lives of people, their fraternities, to stay with them and this is how we will celebrate the Eucharist and break the bread with them…distribute to them in their own conditions. He further said that We have a mission and challenge to face like st. Francis who re-built the house of God which was in ruins. He invited all the participants to Enter into the grand vision of Biblical work.
In our days, and always, and always increasing, it is a number of the ‘gods’ that command human work. Today, a time of exodus and of many exoduses continues to be the time of walking beside many who continue to be forced to serve ‘their lords’. Toda, a time of exodus of may exoduses, it becomes ever more urgent that we ;”friars” without fear of being ‘being branded,’ walk and struggle along with those who are not able to pass their ‘Jordan’….
The speaker said that as poor people we are obliged to obtain with our work all that is necessary to provide for our life and for the life of the poor with whom we must hare our existence. The poverty to which we are called is not that of ‘not having’ but that of ‘not possessing.’ The poverty of the ‘anawim’ to which we are committed by religious profession is that of sharing in the light of the challenge of the beatitudes. We are living in hard realities, challenging times that touch us in our lives in the challenges proposed by Christ and fleshed out by Francis, to ‘be people with the people, so that ever more people might be people and no one ever ceases to be a person.’
The speaker further noted that all human effort that is not a search for God is without direction; all work that is not perceived in the light of the establishment of the kingdom is converted into chastisement, into punishment, into the sweat of uselessness of a ‘monastic life’ full of religion and empty of faith.
He said that the ‘beginning’ of the Biblical reflection on work is not Genesis, as we have seen, but the Exodus! The human being, with his work, becomes the one who continues and cares for God’s work of creation; it’s not about a punishment but a ‘being with….,’ of being a relationship! He explained that to be people with the people, so that ever more people and no one ever ceases to be a person. A God of relationship that challenges to relationship, a ‘provoking’ God that drives the people in their exodus of the dream of freedom to meet themselves, in order to then understand what we must all accept: God has turned to us….
Work is not a punishment, but an exercise of liberty! This is the Biblical genesis of the concept of work. We are lost at the point of losing what is essential in our life and in our mission: to be people with the people, so that ever more people might be people and no one ever ceases to be a person. We continue to ‘cry for’ a paradise lost and we do not realize that what we are called to do is not to ‘cry’ or to have nostalgia for what was lost, but instead to have nostalgia for what is, yes, the task of construction…to inaugurate the Kingdom.
The speaker said that we work in order to realize the dream of establishing the kingdom, we work to realize Eden; we don’t have nostalgia for the past, but rather we dream of the future. It is not work that gives dignity to the human being; it is the human being that gives dignity to work.