Grace to you!
Sometimes, if not many times, Christ's messages stir us out of our comfort zone. If you thought the Lord Jesus was that nice and utterly easy-going preacher along the streets of Jerusalem, your view isn't consistent with biblical accounts. Time and time again, Jesus challenged the status quo. Despite the distant past of his words, the daring relevance remains the same. As his words challenged the people of his time, they have the same impact today. Ever relevant is his message. He is Lord.
Jesus proposed the contrast of many of the dominant political ideologies of the time. He equally upended the rabbinical interpretations of the Law from ritual laws to Sabbath routines.
For instance, Luke 6:1-11 reports a scene of Jesus' direct opposition to Sabbath's rabbinic interpretation. First was the understanding by many of the rabbis that people shouldn't work on a Sabbath, and that included the apostles not picking some heads of grain for a meal. The second was that the Pharisees watched to see whether Jesus would do miracles on a Sabbath. [Recall that many of the rabbis were Pharisees.] Miracle was considered work. Unbelievable!
For the Blessed Lord Jesus, the case of a man with a withered hand is a pure situation to set the record straight. Why is the Sabbath? It was a time to demonstrate that the duty of love (charity) permeates all divine laws.
The Lord's answers were brilliant: "The Son of man is lord of the Sabbath" (Lk 6:5). "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mk 2:27). "I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?" (Lk 6: 9)
The answers were a radical call to correct the Law's erroneous interpretation and refocus on God's intent of charity, mercy, and true worship. The Sabbath (literally meaning the day of rest) was made so people wouldn't work 24/7. It is a day when they are to devote quality time, resting in the Lord (worship). All work, no rest is a recipe for premature death. It's an indirect abuse of the human person to whom work should complement human dignity. There is the dignity of labor because there is the dignity of the human person. All work no rest makes us no better than machines in the factory or the computer hardware. Such a way of life is dangerous.
Does this suggest laziness? Not at all. In essence, it makes us the best at work because rest refuels, refreshes, reenergizes and makes a sustainable productivity a likely result.
There is the dignity of labor, and there is the dignity of rest. Work hard but also rest. Isn't it a medical consensus that sleep (at least eight-hour sleep) is an expectation for a healthy life? God, our Maker, knows that all work no rest is not promoting the joy of life. The merciful God wouldn't want us to work like a machine. The Sabbath was, therefore, a gesture of love and mercy, Divine Love, and Divine Mercy.
Second, the Sabbath was a gesture of spiritual equilibrium and worship. The Creator wants us to rest and, more importantly, to rest in God. The Sabbath rest is the Sabbath worship because worship is the rest in and of the Spirit. We call heaven a place of rest because it's the home where all our desires, the spiritual core, find a niche of eternal repose in God. In heaven, we are enraptured in Divine Love. We rest in Divine shalom.
On the temporal day of rest, which for Christians is Sunday, we rest in God and relax the body. Both are two aspects of the health of the human person. They promote the dignity of the human person. Rest from work promotes the health of the body. Rest in God nurtures a healthy soul. So it goes, a healthy soul in a healthy body.
As we work, may we also find time to rest; it is good for us.
I am praying for the grace of peace and inner rest amidst our daily chores. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday, Sunday Ordinary Time, Week 23: Lk 6:6-11]
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Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.