With everything essentially shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be a while before we gather again to celebrate Mass on Sunday. Who would have ever imagined that our Lenten sacrifice would include Mass? So, as I considered what to write for the bulletin this week, I thought I would spend the next few weeks dusting off some of my old Deacon’s Corners which talk about what the Mass is and why we go to Mass in the first place. Let’s begin with what Sunday is all about. It is the Sabbath: The Lord’s Day.
There was a time when Kimberly and I had our Sunday routine down pretty good – Mass in the morning, rush home, quick lunch, do all the yard work and house projects, quit about 6pm, be too tired for dinner, call the parents and kids to see how they’re doing, then get ready for the upcoming week. One hot Sunday afternoon, we took a break from mowing the lawn. Across the street we noticed our neighbors. Mom and Dad were sitting on the front porch. He was strumming his guitar. She was reading a book. The kids were running around the yard playing soccer. Then, it hit us both at the same time – why don’t we do that? Why can’t we just relax on Sunday afternoon? Kimberly and I walked over and talked to our neighbors, then decided to follow their example of setting Sunday aside as a day of rest. You see, our neighbors were also our very good friends. And still are. They are Mormon, and take the Third Commandment quite literally. They believe in family values and honoring the Sabbath as a solemn day of rest to thank God for their blessings.
Funny thing, so do we. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord” (2168). It goes on to say that “God entrusted the Sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable covenant, and set the day apart for the praise of God and his work of creation” (2171)…“If God rested and was refreshed on the seventh day, then we, too, should rest and let others do the same…The Sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money” (2172).
Sunday is a day of rest and leisure to nurture our spiritual, family, and social life. It is a day to avoid unnecessary demands on ourselves and others. Of course, there are always emergencies, and some people do have to work on Sunday to keep the paycheck coming. And that’s OK. But we must always remember, Sunday is the Lord’s Day – the Sabbath. It is a day to attend Mass and worship our God. A day to enjoy the world God created for us. It is a day to do humble works of service for others, as Jesus did.
The word “Sabbath” comes from the Hebrew verb shabbat, meaning “to rest from labor”: the day of rest. It is first used in the Bible for the seventh day of Creation when God rested (Exodus 16:23). So, if God rested on the Sabbath, why can’t we? That’s something to think about when life gets back to normal after the COVID-19 shutdown ends.
May you always enjoy the Sabbath, and have a blessed week!