Sabbath: A Blessing We Should Consider Accepting
Let’s talk about the Sabbath.
It’s “Shabbat” in Hebrew. To my Jewish friends who head out on Friday nights, I’m always happy to wish them ‘Shabbat shalom’, which loosely means ‘enjoy a peaceful rest’, but actually means so much more, as ‘shalom’ refers to fullness in all being. But for our purposes here, we’ll keep it easy.
What a wonderful thing to wish someone – a peaceful rest, a break from the daily hustle and bustle of noise and news, the ever-increasing sense of apparent chaos all around! A break from the daily and extremely destructive inner orders that we must “go” and “do” and “get things done” so that we can prove our worth to a world that seems to only value humans who are accomplished or useful .
The utilitarian instinct is strong in humans, especially in struggling societies that have taken their instructions from a Calvinist ancestry. But utilitarianism was never the way of the saints, nor was it the way of Christ, who saw the intrinsic worth in all people, no matter how much or how much they could “do” in their lives. world.
He saw the value of their simple “being”. And “to be” – perhaps more than we realize – is what Jesus was trying to teach us. As we learn to rest, as we learn to simply “be” with God, with our friends and families, and with the world, eventually the balanced wholeness that this rest creates in the wholeness of our being gives a good orientation to our action. . All that usefulness that we so enjoy does not go away, but is better channeled into what pleases God and honors the world and the life given to us.
If we are to lead useful lives (and most of us are, to some extent), then it seems absolutely essential for us to reclaim the idea of Sabbath rest if we are to feel at peace, well-adjusted. and – dare I say it – sane. .
Jesus taught that “the Sabbath is for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), indicating that this single day of the week is meant to be a blessing, rather than a burden, for those who observe it. We know that God rested after seven days of work, and God really worked a lot before resting. I mean, when was the last time you created a universe in a week?
I suggest that we Christians take a long and careful look at the Sabbath, which for us is Sunday. Whether you are single, or married with a family, young or old, living alone or with roommates, woman, man, priest, bishop: we all need a day of rest.
This day of rest is a spiritual exercise, and it is meant to be a weekly renewal, a sort of retreat. This is an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual core.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says that since the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become more relaxed about their work schedules, with the average number of hours worked each week decreasing. I have noticed in my life a greater willingness to admit that on a particular day I have done enough and that I need to sit down, say my prayers, watch some television, eat a meal and just rest.
The Sabbath seems almost designed for those who have the heavy and sacred responsibility of raising a family. Imagine allowing the Sabbath to have its own schedule. It might be a good idea to plan a big breakfast after mass, to dress for church and attend together, to plan some afternoon activities, preferably related in some way from another to the readings, to the party or the season.
I realize that sports and other commitments can make such planning difficult, but if we recognize the power of the Sabbath day and how it benefits our being, I believe we can find a way.
Imagine Sunday as a day completely different from any other day of the week, a day to glorify and worship God, a day to get to know and care for your family or your spouse or your neighbors or roommates, a day to rest and think of others — from another world! – things!
The Sabbath is for us! It is a gift designed and commissioned for our benefit. Let’s find a way to embrace the gift, to enjoy the temporal and eternal blessings of this weekly day of rest.
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