Today's reading is a classic example of people who get their priorities mixed up or confused. In Paul's time, it seems that people were expecting "the end" to come immediately; so they just stopped working and spent their time praying and sponging off of their neighbours while they waited for Jesus and "the end" to come.
Paul says "enough of this." You have your priorities all wrong. As baptised Christians, you’re called to continue to spread the Good News of God's love, not just sit around doing nothing while you wait for the parousia or “second coming” of Christ. I suppose it’s part of human nature to idly speculate about "when" the end will come. But that is all it is: idle speculation, and as the saying goes, idleness is the devil's workshop (implicit in Proverbs 18:9, which says that whoever is slack or lazy in his work is brother to the one who destroys). What was St. Paul's solution? He decided on a position of tough love: "Anyone unwilling to work should not eat" (2 Thess 3:10).
Being a baptised Christian is all about becoming part of the mission of Christ, becoming his hands, feet, mouth, and heart. Works of mercy must abound, for we were all given gifts to help build up the body of Christ. Our gifts are meant for others, not for ourselves alone. Paul gave good example in this regard, because he earnt his daily sustenance by tent-making (Acts 18:3). So he is free to say, "you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labour we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you" (2 Thess 3:7-8). In the end, we will be judged based on our works of mercy, not on our prayer life (Matthew 25, separation of the sheep and goats).
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM!
Article (CCC 2427) says that work is a duty, not an option. By working we honour the Creator who gave us our gifts and talents. Working can also be redemptive if we need to endure hardship in our labour and choose to unite that with the cross of Jesus. In this way man shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Man’s work can also be a means of sanctification and a way of living earthly activities with the Spirit of Christ
“CCC” stands for Catechism of the Catholic Church: -
An online version can be found at: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc2.htm.
The NRSV bible version can be found at: http://www.devotions.net/bible/00bible.htm
It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work212 in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work.