The truth that by means of work humanity participates in the activity of God Himself, his Creator, was given particular prominence by Jesus Christ – the Jesus at whom many of His first listeners in Nazareth were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter?” For Jesus not only proclaimed but first and foremost fulfilled by His deeds the Gospel – the Word of eternal Wisdom – that had been entrusted to Him. Therefore, this was also “the Gospel of work” because He who proclaimed it was Himself a man of work, a craftsman like Joseph of Nazareth.

Even if we do not find in His words a special command to work, nevertheless, the eloquence of the life of Christ is unequivocal: He belongs to the working world; He has appreciation and respect for human work. It can indeed be said that He looks with love upon human work and the different forms that it takes, seeing in each one of these forms a particular facet of humanity’s likeness with God, the Creator and Father.


Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and skeptical relativism are the philosophies and the basic attitudes that correspond to democratic forms of political life. Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends. But it must be observed in this regard that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.


The figure of St. Joseph recalls the urgent need to give a soul to the world of work. His life, marked by listening to God and by familiarity with Christ, appears as a harmonious synthesis of faith and life, of personal fulfillment and love for one’s brothers and sisters, of daily commitment, and of trust in the future.

May his witness remind those who work that only by accepting the primacy of God and the light that comes from Christ’s Cross and Resurrection can they fulfill the conditions of a labor worthy of humanity – and find in daily toil a glimmer of new life, of the new good, as if it were an announcement of “new heaven and a new earth” in which humanity and the world participate precisely through the toil that goes with work.

Continue to “On God the Father” or see the full list of excerpts.

from Go In Peace, by John Paul II