Thursday, July 11, 2013

"The Laborer Deserves His Keep"

I started to write this blog post yesterday, but then the children (remember, I'm a nanny can you forget if you follow me on Twitter ;) came running in to ask me something and all was lost. Sigh. I'm beginning to have great empathy particularly for my single mother friends. I don't know how you do it and juggle everything else.  I've always wondered this, which is why I have, perhaps, never felt called to motherhood. Juggling stresses me out!  I can do it (figuratively speaking) and I'm even kind of good at it, but I don't choose it. And i also prefer to juggle solo ;)  I have been told I have great maternal instinct, but I choose to use that instinct towards my students or for other people's kids who I can hand back after a couple of hours.

This is why many were shocked when I announced I was going to nanny this summer. I had made my distaste for spending my free time with children rather known (teaching teenagers is a different story. You can talk more with teenagers as opposed to having to come up with new games every day and managing your own classroom is way different than having to fend for yourself in an adventure in babysitting) so people wanted to know WHY. Why take a summer job? Why take THIS summer job?

As I said in my last blog post, I did feel somewhat called to it. Maybe to feel empathy for my friends with kids who are growing by the numbers. I also had met the kids and they seemed really cool and chill and that it would be fun to get to know them (which it is). But mostly, I wanted to DO something. I know summer is for sitting and relaxing, but I have never been able to do that for long! I don't know about you, but I always have to be doing something, accomplishing some kind of goal, and making good use of my time...damn my strong work ethic!

It is interesting that, in this time of relaxing and summer, we have had at Mass this week readings about labor. This past Sunday at Mass we heard that "the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few" and in today's Gospel Jesus tells his apostles to do all these tasks that seem impossible: "Cure the sick! Raise the dead! But take nothing with you! The laborer deserves his keep." (Matt. 10: 7-15)

My thoughts on these Gospels have been: "Send more laborers into your harvest already! I'm starting to get a little frustrated and tired, here. Why can't I just lay around and get lost in video games and the traps of the culture like everyone else? Humph. And what does it mean, Jesus, that the 'laborer deserves his keep?' you just told us to keep nothing! I'm onto you!" I mean, I know I said that I like to keep busy and work, but WHY me? 

So these are the questions I have found myself asking this summer: Why labor? Why take the job in the summer? Why try to stay busy and persevere? Why labor in the Church when many make it seem like a lost cause?

I clearly have to meditate more on these things, but God does provide some answers in this week's readings. The Old Testament readings have been the story of Jacob and his sons. I love teaching this particular chapter to my students because they always freak out when they realize what a playa Jacob was: 12 sons (and probs even more kids counting his daughters) by at least four women. AND Jacob got to be blessed by God and given the name Israel even though he tricked his father Isaac into giving him the inheritance and birthright in the first place. These stories never make much sense to us because it doesn't seem fair. It's not fair that Jacob is one of the founding patriarchs of our faith when he lied and became a polygamist. Just like it might not seem fair that we have to work so hard. But I have come to see these stories as stories of hope. If they can do all that crazy and still be blessed and forgiven, certainly God will keep his covenant with me!

And so we see in the readings that it's not always fair they way things work out, but God is faithful. That is what the Old Testament readings are meant to show us: that God has kept and fulfilled His promises. It is hard to remember in the midst of our labor, but it is what does and should keep me going and why I do what I do. I just have to have these reminders from time to time and God knows that. 

The last bit of Scripture I will leave with today: "Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give." This line is also from today's Gospel and I believe sums up what I've been trying to say. It may not seem (at least it doesn't for me!) that I was given something without cost. I feel like I have earned what God has given me and worked hard for it, but the reality is, we don't have to do anything. God's grace is a free gift and we don't earn it. This a hard concept for us to understand, and sometimes we want to show off our labor like a badge of honor, but it is not ours to tote around and flaunt. This is why we labor: to share the gift that is worthy to be given freely. Not just to keep us busy, but because we have been given a gift that we are called to share. And I guess since it's not really us doing all the work in the first place, that's why we don't really deserve our "keep." But he gives us the reward of His promises any way. 


Some evidence of my "labor" this summer:

I've become quite the baker thanks to my new little helper...

We also have Fashion Shows...

I join the moms in the waiting area at gymanstics class....

And I rejoice when I get a moment to read when they are playing with friends :) I'm like a pseudo-mom!