Should You Love Your Work?

Fr Valle’s homily of Jan 25 says yes, to the question of whether we should love our work:

I. Paul and no horse
Today’s feast gives us, visually speaking, one of the most misquoted passages in Scripture. We characterize conversions as, “being knocked off a horse,” ala St. Paul. In Europe, many pulpits in the great Cathedrals show a fallen horse with Paul tumbling to the ground, for example the pulpit in the city of Louvain where I studied. However, you will notice that the passage from Acts says nothing about a horse. Just as we often get that little detail wrong, we often misunderstand the nature of conversion. Paul is not converted from a persecutor of Christians to an apostle, that is only what happens on the outside. Conversion takes place on the inside. What changes is not the circumstances of my life or even my actions. What changes is my heart. Christianity is not a different way of thinking about the world, it is a different way of being at the world

II. Story of waiter
[Here is a story I stole from my good friend Fr. Jose Alvarez. I will tell it in the first person because stories just work better that way]. A few years ago, I was at the Appleby’s in Chicago. The food was good but even better was the service. The waiter was extraordinary. He was personable, attentive, competent and, most of all, just very happy. It was kind of infectious. Watching him smile kind of made you want to smile, too. Anyhow, as we were leaving, I told him that this was the best service that I had ever had at a meal and that he was probably the best waiter I ever had. He told me that he loved his job and that made it easy. He said that he had not always been like this. He said that ever since he was young he had been a very driven, type-A, personality, that he always had to get straight As and excel at everything he did. Her ultimately entered Northwestern Medical School where he was top of his class for two years. Then, he had a mild heart attack. When he recovered, he took stock of his life. He realized that he had never been happier then when he was waiting tables. So now he was going to be the best waiter ever. But that was not difficult to do because, when you love what you do, what you do, isn’t hard to do.”

III. Three lessons
This, I think, is the modern day story of a man who was metaphorically knocked off his horse, of course Paul was only metaphorically and not literally knocked off too! In any event, I think the story teaches us three lessons. First, conversion is not about externals. It does no good to change you job or your clothes or your wife, if you do not first change your heart. This is why conversion is called change of heart, metanoia. Second, as Descartes said, “choose the right profession.” The right profession is the one that makes you happy and gives you joy when you’re doing it. Every day of my life, I thank God that I am a priest and a philosopher. I will never be rich. I will never be powerful. Even in my chosen professions of priest and philosopher, I will never publish a historically important philosophy book or become a bishop. But, and here is the important part, every morning I get up, I teach, I read, I write, I preach and I administer the sacraments. There is not one aspect of that which I consider drudgery. If you love your work, it is not work but joy. If you hate your work, you hate your life.

IV. Keys to the kingdom
Third, do not seek external stuff. Happiness is only to be found in the heart. Augustine defined happiness as getting what you desire and desiring nothing that is evil. But it is hard to purify our desire in today’s world. We are constantly being fed so much stupidity. Watch an hour of TV, commercials included. We are being told everything from how we look to where we shop will make us happy. I guess being knocked off one’s horse is not such a bad image after all. Being up on one’s high horse implies power, position and prestige. None of that will make us happy. Humility, tenderness and kind laughter, these are ways to joy and the keys to the kingdom of God.

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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