Sunday is May 1, and varieties of celebrations associated with May Day come from many cultures. May is the halfway point between the spring equinox (March 21), when there are equal hours of sunlight and darkness, and the summer solstice (June 21), the longest day of the year. The May Day celebrations started with the northern hemisphere agrarian cultures, for whom May Day meant the end of spring planting. The young men and women turned their attention to romance and love as they now had to wait for the crops to grow.
In the late 1880s, as the workers began fighting against economic injustices, the American Federation of Labor, in their promotion of 8-hour working days, chose May 1 to celebrate the labor and started their general strike. In most countries of the world, May 1 is a national holiday. Still, the U.S. decided to create a Labor Day in September to disassociate with the Socialist movement that arose in Europe.
May Day is important for the faith community, not only because it is important for us to be in solidarity with the workers, the people who do the work but do not receive the full benefit of their labor, but because we are called to work. Our work is not physical labor that we receive compensation for because it has economic implications, but our work is to bring about social, cultural, and racial justice.
The value of our work is the restoration of human dignity. It can only be measured by the spiritual revitalization of the human soul. We see this in the example of Moses, whose personal failures had kept him from recognizing the importance of the work God called him to.
As a young man, Moses, in his righteous indignation, witnessed an Egyptian mistreat an Israelite and murdered a man. Rather than facing up to the consequences of his actions, he runs away and hides in another country. Even though he saved his physical life, when God comes for him, it becomes clear that Moses was dead inside.
The Moses God created was dead and buried deep under the layers of self-condemnation, fear and guilt. He could not see the ability God saw when God called him to the work of leading the Israelite children into freedom. He could not see the leader God had created, but he only saw the failure of a man.
One of the social impacts of the pandemic is the increase of self-doubt among the young people. For past two years, they have been told to not get together with their friends and be afraid of other people. The fear-filled existences isolated them, and anxiety dominated their lives.
As we are slowly opening up, the work of the Church will be to restore human dignity through facilitating human connections. The work of the Church is to help people find their createdness under the layers of anxiety and fear. This May, let us get to work and love our neighbors so they can see their God createdness in them just as God sees them.