January 17, 2023
by Mary Lee Brock
Creighton University's Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Graduate School
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbott
Lectionary: 312

Hebrews 6:10-20
Psalm 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 and 10c
Mark 2:23-28

Praying Ordinary Time

A source of enjoyment in my life is participating in a monthly coffee meeting with a group of women who have devoted their careers in service to the community through work in nonprofit organizations.  We explore a wide range of topics as we support one another by sharing ideas and encouragement.  This month one of our members talked about her plans to offer a sabbatical program for her employees.  We found this idea intriguing, especially considering the combination of big responsibilities and tight budgets the employees encounter daily.

This conversation came to mind as I read today’s gospel from Mark in which the Pharisees condemn the disciples for helping clear a path for Jesus in a field as they consider this doing forbidden work on the Sabbath.  Jesus shares a story of David providing for his people on the Sabbath and says to the Pharisees: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.  That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

This is a perfect time to listen for God’s wisdom about the Sabbath as the cold winter nights are long here in the Midwest and many well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned.  God tells us in the 4th Commandment:  Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.  This commandment and the 5th to Honor your mother and your father are the only two commandments that are telling us what to do rather than what we shall not do.  Yet the Pharisees focused on the rules and regulations they had assigned to the Sabbath. 

The appreciative frame of what the Sabbath can be rather than what I am forbidden to do opens my heart.  Rather than focus on rigid rules or expectations of time commitment to keep a “perfect” Sabbath, I wonder how we can adopt a creative approach to accept the gift of the Sabbath God is offering.

Today I reflect and pray:  How can we accept the invitation to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy?   What forms of busyness and distraction are preventing me from a Sabbath experience?  I ask God for the grace to help me see the many creative ways I can make a Sabbath holy.  I pray for hard working people to have an opportunity to recharge through a Sabbath experience.

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.

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