“Now it happened that he went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went his disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’ But he said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry…?’ And he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk 2:23-27)
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew “shabath,” meaning “to cease, desist, rest.” In the passage above I learn two things about the Sabbath: 1. In the Spirit of Christ, Who is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mt 12:8), one has a new freedom to interpret and apply the law of the Sabbath; 2. A special time for “ceasing, desisting, resting” is a God-given gift, made for “man(kind),” for all of us.
Setting aside the whole issue of Saturday vs. Sunday as the day of rest (in any event, in the West both Saturdays and Sundays are “days off”), I remind myself today of the simple truth that I need a special time “to cease, desist, rest.” I need a time to re-connect, in a special way, with God, myself, family and community, by “desisting” from other concerns. Nowadays it is more challenging to find this time, when the internet and the globalized economy have many of us “on,” or even formally at work, 24/7. I need to make a conscious effort, a free choice, to accept the God-given gift of “the Sabbath made for man,” in some way that I can.
Today let me accept this gift with gratitude and hear God’s voice saying to me, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps 45:10)