Friday, October 30, 2015 ~ Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Holy Gospel: Luke 14:1-6 On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully. In front of him there was a man suffering from dropsy.
Jesus spoke to the scholars of the law and Pharisees in reply, asking, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?” But they kept silent; so he took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him. Then he said to them “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” But they were unable to answer his question.
Meditation: In our increasingly busy world where we regularly try to pack ten pounds of activities into a five pound bag, today we should give an honest assessment of how each of us approaches the commandment to observe the Sabbath as a day of rest to honor the Lord. Obviously there is a balance to be struck here. The Pharisees were convinced that Jesus was a reckless Sabbath-breaker. The Gospels record seven incidents in which Jesus healed people on the Sabbath – the seventh day of the week set apart for rest and the worship of God. You would think Jesus’ miracles on the Sabbath day of rest would draw admiration and gratitude from all. Unfortunately, each incident seemed to incite increasing hostility from the religious leaders who held an interpretation that went beyond God’s intention for the Sabbath day of rest. They were certain that Jesus was a dangerous and irreligious man, a Sabbath-breaker, who must be stopped at all costs. But what about ourselves? How do we treat Sunday (the Sabbath for Christians)? Do we make going to Mass a priority because we want to give fitting praise, worship and thanksgiving to God, and to be nourished by the words of sacred scripture and the Body and Blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ? Do we have a desire to “want” to go to Mass, versus a drag-your-feet attitude of “do I have to go to Mass?” Do I place sports, practices, rehearsals, sleep, shopping, travel, time in the office to catch up, yard work, et cetera above Mass? Or do I make Mass a priority recognizing that I can do these other things later? After Mass, am I cheating myself out of a much-needed day of rest by choosing instead to pack ten pounds of activities into a five-pound bag?
Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, increase our faith, hope and charity, and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise. 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 did God give the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath and enjoined his people to refrain from work on that day? The “Sabbath rest” was (and is still) meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his works, both in creation and redemption. It was (and still is) a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was (and still is) intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. It was not, however, intended to put a stop to love of God and love of neighbor. The law of love supersedes the law of rest! Jesus shows the fallacy of the Pharisees’ legalism by pointing to God’s intention for the Sabbath: to do good and to heal. Are hospitals closed on Sundays? Of course not. The need for physical healing is a constancy in our lives. So is spiritual healing, which is just as important. That is why the Sabbath remains an important day in our lives to get the spiritual nourishment we need to keep ourselves spiritually fit in order to live our lives as disciples of Christ.