Traces N.2, February 1999Constructive Destiny of Human Work
Let's try to imagine a medieval city. Never mind whether it's big or small, rich or more modest. A Cathedral towers over it, a temple, sign of the nearness of God to men.
The Cathedral is the result of the work of the whole people. Not only the work of the architects that planned it, of the artists who embellished it, of the sculptors who refined it or of the masons who erected its walls.
Even the cobbler in a distant workshop or the mother washing her man's clothes understood, however vaguely, that their work was within that sign; that the sign questioned them and opened up for them an aim that was greater than the immediate result. The Cathedral was the sign of the people's work, of everyone's work, which gave glory in the history of men to Jesus of Nazareth.
The people of that medieval city, weaving a society that dotted Europe with cathedrals, did their job: the architect just as the cobbler; those with a burning faith and those whose faith was more fragile. By sowing those signs of the presence of God, who is all in all, that people witnessed the divine presence in history as a factor of unity, of growth, and of true welfare for society.
In this way they were "helping" God, the "eternal worker" in his merciful work of building and sustaining human hope.
The nature of a people can be understood from its work, from the value it ascribes to that work. For the meaning of the world is affirmed or denied not so much through words but through the offering of one's daily work, through the sacrifice made for the work of Another. This happens with the commitment of each one in that piece of reality that the circumstances propose every day, to manipulate and transform it, asking always to be active co-workers with Christ, sharing with Him the will of the Father who is in heaven. Building cathedrals-of stone or of people-is the most thrilling task there is for a Christian, as the great T.S. Eliot asserts in the dramatic perspective that affirms the alternative between good and evil or violence: "And if the Temple is to be cast down, we must first build the Temple."