Love’s Labour Lost (Twenty-third Ordinary)

Jesus said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children
brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. For which of you intending to build
a tower, does not sit down first and estimate the cost, to see whether you have enough to complete it?”
(Luke 14: 25 – 28)

I watched in amazement and admiration as five men worked one scorching summer day putting a new
roof on the apartment building next to mine. The black tar and rubber made it 20 degrees hotter for
them than the rest of us sweltering in 90-degree heat. They were in long pants and thick boots –
protective gear most of us wouldn’t choose to don on a hot, humid day.

They started at 7 a.m., broke one half hour for lunch, and worked until 5 p.m. One guy must have run
up and down the three flights of stairs to the ground level 20 times on various errands; another hung
over the side of the building repairing the coping strapped in a belt tethered to the chimney. It was
dangerous, gruelling work, but they were back the next day for another 10 hours of work that I
wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

I hope, at least they’re making good money, I thought to myself. I found out later that these men – all
war refugees placed at a disadvantage by language barriers – were risking life and limb and their
families’ security for little more than minimum wage, and their employer offered them no medical
benefits, workers compensation, disability insurance, paid holidays, or superannuation. The employer,
on the other hand, was building a $4 million house with bathrooms off all six bedrooms, so no one in
the family would have to share.

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