Friday, July 17, 2009

God’s Rest

God’s rest
by Fr. Joel O. Jason

Two men were in a contest. The goal: who among them can chop the most number of wood in an hour’s time. There was a mandatory rest of two minutes after every 10 minutes. So they began chopping wood. Carlo and Frank were neck to neck in the contest, almost simultaneous in chopping. Both also took the mandatory two-minute rest.

After an hour, the pieces of wood were counted. Carlo cut more pieces of wood than Frank. Puzzled, Frank asked, “How come? We were almost simultaneous in chopping. We both took two-minute rests. What’s your secret?” Carlo replied, “Whenever I rested, I sharpened my ax.”

Whenever we hear the word rest, we think of inactivity, of doing nothing, of pigging out. Today, Jesus in the Gospel ran once more into controversy with the Pharisees over the Sabbath rest. Seen picking grains, the apostles were accused of violating the Sabbath rest. Sabbath is a day of rest for the Jews and holiness dictates that no semblance of work be done on a Sabbath.
The Sabbath took its origin from the Genesis account, “and God rested on the seventh day” (Genesis 2:2). Later on this will be codified in the Mosaic law as the third commandment, “Thou shall keep holy the Sabbath” (Exodus 20:8). But why did God rest on the seventh day? Did He grow tired? NO. Rest symbolized a day of communion between Creator and creature. After God created man and woman on the sixth day, He made hallow the seventh day, not necessarily a day of doing nothing but as a day of communion — of celebrating God’s love for man and man’s inherent connectedness with God. And that is more than simply doing nothing.

Jesus understood Sabbath not as doing nothing. Rather it means doing what needs to be done. He understood it as an intensification of one’s communion with God. Sabbath is not a day of laziness. Sabbath is a day of celebrating the God and man, man and God relationship.

Reflection Question:

How do you spend your Sunday? Your holy days of obligation? Do you look at Sunday simply as a day of pursuing meaningless and trivial pursuits?

Lord, may I always give You the worship You deserve, for the glory of Your name and for the good of Your people. Amen.