“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not the truest of guides for human life?” ~Saint Benedict, from the Rule of Saint Benedict (73:3)
“To love God as He ought to be loved, we must be detached from all temporal love. We must love nothing but Him, or if we love anything else, we must love it only for His sake.” ~Saint Peter Claver
Monday, September 7, 2015 ~ Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
~ Labor Day ~
Holy Gospel: Luke 6:6-11 On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
Meditation: There go the scribes and Pharisees again with their legalistic approach to life. Here we see Jesus coming upon a man “whose right hand was withered.” Jesus having the ability to cure the ill and infirm did just that, even though it was the sabbath. Jesus, out of love for the man, cured him; this was not an act of work, but an act of love. But the scribes and Pharisees were foolish to try, yet again, to “discover a reason and accuse him.” Sunday is the sabbath for us. Would we refuse to help someone in need on Sunday simply because it is the Lord’s day? I hope not! Doing work that is unnecessary on Sunday is one matter, but to ignore the needs of someone whom we can help is altogether a different situation.
Prayer: O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive adoption, look graciously upon your beloved sons and daughters, that those who believe in Christ may receive true freedom and an everlasting inheritance. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Why do Christians celebrate Sunday as the Lord’s Day? Most importantly, we celebrate it to commemorate God’s work of redemption in Jesus Christ and the new work of creation accomplished through Christ’s death and resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:17). God’s action is a model for us. If God “rested and was refreshed” on the seventh day, we, too, ought to take our sabbath rest as a way of expressing honor to God for all that he has done for us. Such “rest” however does not exempt us from our love for our neighbor. If we truly love the Lord above all else, then the love of God will overflow to love of neighbor as well. Saint Augustine of Hippo once said: “The charity of truth seeks holy leisure; the necessity of charity accepts just work.” But how can we make Sunday a day holy to the Lord? First, by attending Mass, giving fitting praise and worship to God our Father and to be nourished in both word and sacrament. Second, refrain from unnecessary work and from activities that hinder the worship we owe to God. We can also perform works of mercy, such as humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. And we ought to seek appropriate relaxation of mind and body as well. The joy of the Lord’s Day is a great gift to refresh and strengthen us in our love of God and of neighbor (Nehemiah 8:10). Do you know the joy of the Lord and do you find rest and refreshment in celebrating the Lord’s Day? If you’re too busy doing any number of things on Sunday, cut back and enjoy God’s day of rest.