WHAT DOES SATURDAY MEAN?
(Saturday, April 29)
For Orthodox Christians, a Saturday is not a day of *not working*, as the Sabbath was in the times of the “Old” Testament. Nonetheless, it is the seventh day of the week, when we focus on the “rest” with which God “rested” on the seventh day of creation. In Byzantine Rite church-services, on Saturdays we remember our deceased and all the saints, who entered into God’s kind of “rest.” The “rest” with which God rested did not mean that God stopped working, as the Son of God testifies: “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” (Jn 5:17) Having initially “worked” to bring our world into being out of nothing, God rested on the seventh day from that, but continues to “work” on and with His creation, in His rest. And He sends us His only-begotten Son, to teach us how to enter into His rest, even while we “work,” – not in the way we used to, but in His rest. What does this mean? This means a new way of being, in the peace from above, whether at work, at play, or at rest. Regardless of what we are doing or not doing, we are called always to be “laboring” to be nourished by His enduring grace. “Do not labor for the food which perishes,” the Lord says to us in today’s Gospel reading, “but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (Jn 6:27) In practical terms, this means we are to seek to have our every moment, every activity, every conversation, every silence, every thought, flavored with the “salt” of God’s grace.
We need not be discouraged because we are far from perfect, and slip away from this purpose time and again throughout our day. But we begin from our waking moment, with a simple, heartfelt prayer, and a willingness to do God’s will in the upcoming day. We might engage in some brief “light reading,” that is, reading that brings us light and not darkness, before we begin scrolling down into some of the “dark reading” that is always available in our phones. God meets us half way, whenever we have the willingness to (re)turn to Him, so this Saturday morning let me not hesitate to begin my day in His home and His “rest,” and to continue to do so throughout my day, (re)turning to Him in simple heartfelt prayer, so I can pass His peace on to others I may encounter.