Daily Reflection
March 5th, 2000
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 5:12-15
Psalms 81:3-8, 10-11
2 Corinthians 4:6-11
Mark 2:23--3:6 or 2:23-28

This is the last Sunday of ordinary time before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the "joyful season of Lent."  Our readings today center around the theme of the sacredness of time.

In Genesis, God rested on the seventh day after working all week.  The priests of the early Jewish faith, made much of this day a day of religious observance so as to emphasize and retain their position as leaders of that day's observances.  The sabbath then was very holy, because it was on that day the people of Israel were to recall the sacred work of God in their being created as God's people by being brought out of slavery in Egypt.

The first reading from Deuteronomy, which is one of the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures, the Pentateuch, explains the law and the spirit behind the Sabbath tradition.  No work for anybody, because it is a day to marvel at the works of God, done for God's people.

In reading the gospel stories, we get the correct impression that "big Brother" was always watching.  The Pharisees are as much a group of followers as were the apostles.  Today we hear them watching Jesus' disciples picking corn on the sabbath and then Jesus healing a man, not only on the Sabbath, but in the synagogue.  This is more "new wine" and "new cloth."  When their righteous outrage was at the right temperature, they left His presence and began planning His death.

Jesus had done the worst thing by telling them that, "the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath."  Then He compounded their anger by His saying, "that is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."  For them, God was lord and made the sabbath holy.  Jesus has begun His tipping over the most sacred things of the Pharisees' traditions.

Our sabbath is Sunday and it, too, is for us meant to be a holy day of reflection.  Here in the United States lately, there has been a subtle shift to exactly what do we hold as "holy."  On radio and tv, four little idles have crept into prominence.  Programming has slowly moved from religious services to programs dealing with computer-technology, financial-investments, health-issues and sports.  Communications, security and entertainment have become symbols of what makes life meaningful and sacred.

The essential meaning of the sabbath for us, as it is for our Jewish brothers and sisters, is the sacredness of time.  We have hours and days and years to find life, find ourselves and find God.  For us, rest is a means to recover our health, regain a sense of security and find joy in the athletic-like moves of a creative and agile God. 

Jesus had the man with a withered hand stretch out that hand and the man saw in time a "home-run" a "slam dunk", a "hole-in-one."  His own hand was healed, just in time.  Seeing the works of God rather than being preoccupied with our doing our own works, takes "sabbath-time."  Being attentive to the sacredness of our whole life of time, takes time and silence. 

The Pharisees were watching the holy moves of Jesus, but couldn't see what they were obliged to see according to their tradition.  We are invited, not to rest only on the sabbath, but use time wisely in seeing the goodness of God within the goodness of our lives and families.

"Shabbat Shalom"

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