What do you do when a co-worker is sick or has a crisis?
A few years ago our workplace was jolted when a long time co-worker informed us that he had cancer. Dick had been with the company for many years and he was like a family member to us all. During his illness everyone was affected because it was so unnatural to watch this upbeat man have to endure such an ordeal. I would sometimes wonder about the purpose of my job when I would put it in the perspective of what Dick was going through. As his condition deteriorated, it was necessary for a number of people to pick up some of his tasks; but they did it happily because they were doing it for him. Evidence of our love for this man was apparent through our support and during visits with him at home before he died. The church was filled with co-workers at his funeral.
Ask yourself these 4 questions the next time a co-worker is sick or has a crisis: 1 Am I gladly relieving my co-worker of some of his or her job responsibilities so he or she may feel more at ease? 2 Is there anything I can do for my co-worker outside of the workplace? 3 Are we distributing the additional work equally so that no one has undue pressure placed upon him or her? 4 What is the purpose of my work? Am I serving the needs of my co-workers every day? Or do I use my co-workers as simply a means to get what I want?
In the clutter of our work life we can lose sight of our call to service as Catholics. According to The Church in the Modern World (a key document of Second Vatican Council) and Catholic social teaching, there is a fundamental dignity to our work – it is our means of co-creating the world with God. The purpose of the companies we work for, and therefore our jobs, is not primarily for the increase of product or profit. Rather, the company exists to serve the needs of humanity as a whole, and individually we must serve the needs of those with whom we come in contact everyday. Additionally, in describing the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reflects Christ’s invitation for us to share in His ministry of compassion and healing. Our actions in support of our co-workers in times of illness can help relieve suffering by minimizing their worries about their livelihood. Furthermore, as they experience God’s loving grace through us, we ultimately contribute to their healing process. If we are willing to joyfully pick up this cross, this attitude of service will create an enduring spirit of peace throughout the workplace.