Sunday, April 29, 2018
Are we required to keep the Sabbath?
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. – Exodus 20:8-11
Most people think the commandment is simply, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy”, but as you can see the commandment is far more than those words. This commandment includes both its how and its why. And yet, in our times, we so disregard it.
As to the how, the commandment goes into much detail. It is not merely a day off for you but also for those who work on your behalf, even the creatures. Keeping the Sabbath is both the implications for your own life but also the implications for how we interact with those around us. It is commandment that is both communal and individual, and I sense the former is foremost.
But the aspect of this commandment that is most underappreciated is the why we ought to honor the Sabbath. It is because God had ordained this day to be a celebration of Creation, a day set apart by its being uniquely blessed by the Lord.
The Sabbath was not meant to be a tangle of life-complicating rules, but rather a celebration of Divine creativity, a celebration of the Divine gift of Life. It is a Holy Blessing to be used in blessed ways … but in our times we pay it little heed.
I have always loved how Rabbi Abraham Herschel described the Sabbath as a “cathedral in Time”. Sabbath ought to be filled with awe. Sabbath out to be filled with listening prayer. Sabbath ought to be filled with joy and peace. Sabbath ought to be filled with creative time to honor the Divine Creator.
Always in His Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz