July 20, 2018
by Nancy Shirley
Creighton University's School of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 393

Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8
Isaiah 38:10, 11, 12abcd, 16
Matthew 12:1-8
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Enjoying Vacation Time

The gospel reading focuses on Jesus as He attempts to help the Pharisees realize that prohibiting work on the Sabbath is not the most important aspect, there is a greater view to be taken. Something greater than the temple is here. He provides examples of the need for survival and the necessity of “laboring” on a Sunday.  This struck a couple of chords with me.  I think about how grateful I am when I can run to the store on a Sunday and get what I need or have the pleasure of eating out with family for a Sunday brunch.  Yet my convenience and pleasure depends then on someone else “laboring” on Sunday and being unable to enjoy the day.  I clearly recognize that for some of the workers, this is a blessing for them to have this opportunity to work when perhaps it would not be possible during the other six days. It does, however, causes me to ponder what the necessities for me are on a Sunday.  Do I really need to shop then for items that are not essential? 

Yet, as I write this I’m in the Dominican Republic with Creighton’s Institute for Latin American Concern and my Sunday’s work varies.  In order to provide care for some communities, it was necessary to travel on Sunday and begin establishing the clinical set-up to assure we could provide services starting on Monday.  I certainly rationalized that this was a case that Jesus would see as living our faith and serving our brothers and sisters. For one community we arrived on Saturday afternoon and trekked to our host family house and our community area for meals and I do mean trekked.  We were told that on Sunday morning we would cross back over the river to attend church.  Since my husband and I were staying at the base of the “mountain” fairly close to the river, I thought it would be okay.  That morning as we approached the river my thoughts quickly changed . . . how would I, well beyond my prime, cross that river?  It was wider that I remembered when we crossed it in the truck and it was very rocky and hazardous.  I stood there wondering if I would need to miss Mass.  Could I safely negotiate this crossing? This would certainly be considered working on Sunday (some pretty hard work for me).  I stood with tears in my eyes and watched elderly senoras (presumably older that myself) gingerly negotiate the various rocks, boulders, and trek the steep hill beyond.  My Dominican “Mama” (host family mother) deftly crossed as if to show me the correct path to take.  Still hesitating, I saw my “Papa” effortlessly come back down and across the river and offer his hand.  He carefully led me to step on the safest rocks, I couldn’t tell how he was still so sure footed when he had to step wherever.  Each step he patiently held on to me, keeping me secure and encouraging the next.  His pace matched my slow plodding gait, never rushing me, just sharing this slow journey.  Needless to say, I was able to attend the service!  I gratefully participated listening to the beautiful music and the “deacon.”  I appreciated the opportunity to receive communion (although the Deacon could not consecrate communion, he could distribute it).  Then came the reality that I would need to repeat my trip across the river.  I searched for my Papa knowing I would not even attempt it without him, he had my complete trust. 

One area that causes me much angst in this Sunday debate is the scheduling of so many sporting activities for children from early morning to early evening on every Sunday.  I remember when my children were young and there were games on Sunday afternoon but it always seemed possible to have the morning for church.  Now the entire weekend is engulfed in activities that create potential barriers for worship.  How would Jesus address this newest phenomenon? 

How do we reconcile our desires and wants in this fast paced life we live we every day filled to the max with actual needs?  Have we lost sight of what is the most important?  Do we remember?:
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.

If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

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