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Rediscover the Lord’s Day
Monday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
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.
Opening Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, fill me with your wisdom and fortitude. Help me to understand the Scriptures. Open my mind and heart to be transformed ever more closely into your image.
- The Sabbath Is the Lord’s: Just before this in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus told the Pharisees, speaking of himself: “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5). Jesus has authority over all of creation. He rules the seas (Matthew 8:23-27). As Christ the King, he is “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). He is the Lord of all things, including the Sabbath, which God the Father created through Christ, the Word: “And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:2-3). Is Jesus our King of kings and Lord of lords in our lives, or do we have other allegiances that come before him? May he truly reign as Lord of my heart (1 Peter 3:15).
- Rest in the Lord: Mark’s Gospel has a slightly different take on the purpose of the Sabbath. He emphasizes that the Sabbath is a day of rest for the people’s good. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). In other words, the Sabbath was made for human flourishing. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church teaches, “Rest gives men and women the possibility to remember and experience anew God’s work, from Creation to Redemption, to recognize themselves as his work (Ephesians 2:10), and to give thanks for their lives and for their subsistence to him who is their author.” God created the Sabbath as a special day to celebrate our freedom. How do we honor the Lord’s Day in a way that allows us to recognize the spirit of the Sabbath?
- Dedicating Our Hearts to God: In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees about his healing on the Sabbath was that he was doing God the Father’s work: “My Father is still working, and I also am working” (John 5:17). God is eternally at work sustaining his creation and bringing it to wholeness. This is the same work in which Jesus participates: “By healing people on this day of rest… he [Jesus] wishes to show that the Sabbath is his, because he is truly the Son of God, and that it is the day on which men should dedicate themselves to God and to others” (Compendium 261). St. John Paul II has some encouraging words for us as we make an effort to rest on the Lord’s Day: “Sunday is a day which is at the very heart of the Christian life…I would strongly urge everyone to rediscover Sunday: Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ! Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction…Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human” (Dies Domini 7).
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you are the Lord of all things. I am sorry for the times when I have failed to offer your holy day back to you in worship and rest. Thank you for the gift of Sundays so that I can rest and be recreated in your image. I ask you for the grace to recognize the beauty of Sundays and give me the fortitude and wisdom I need to make any changes to offer you each Sunday in a spirit of love and gratitude.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will write down three concrete ways that I can “rediscover Sunday” as the Lord’s Day.
Carey Boyzuck, MTS, is a wife, mother, freelance writer, pastoral assistant, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.