September 6, 2021
by Jay Carney
Creighton University's Theology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 437

Colossians 1:24–2:3
Psalm 62:6-7, 9
Luke 6:6-11

Praying Ordinary Time

An invitation to make the
Online Retreat

Here on America’s Labor Day, I would like to start this reflection by encouraging all readers to keep holy the Sabbath. In our hyperactive, super-stressed, always-busy culture, there are few things we need more than a day to pray, relax, and recreate with God and our loved ones. I am especially grateful to my wife for introducing me to more intentional Sabbath-keeping. This practice has made a huge difference in my life and the life of our family.

However, today’s gospel reminds us that even objectively good practices and traditions can become twisted and corrupted if they are separated from the two great commandments: to love God with one’s full heart, soul and strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Jesus’ teaching shows us that we cannot separate these two commands – to somehow keep the sabbath holy by honoring God, yet not helping our neighbor in need. No, we love God through our love of the neighbor. It is telling that Jesus is the only character in this story who turns his gaze to the victim and orients Sabbath-keeping around healing. The Pharisees, on the other hand, show little to no concern for the man with the withered hand, obsessed as they are with Jesus’ contravening of the Law. (For a powerful visual depiction of this gospel scene, watch the end of Episode 6 of Season 2 of the online series, The Chosen.)

So we are challenged today to “keep holy the Sabbath,” yet also to reflect more deeply on what this call to holiness means in each of our lives. In God’s providence, we do not walk without witnesses. I think especially of St. Teresa of Calcutta, whose feast day falls on September 5. There are few Christians who better embodied “holistic holiness” than Mother Teresa, who spent hours each morning in prayer so that she and her fellow Missionaries of Charity could devote themselves fully to the dying destitute of Calcutta, India. As we discern our own Sabbath calls, may Mother Teresa continue to pray for and inspire us.    

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