Deut 5:12-15; 2Cor 4:6-11; Mk 2:23-3:6
There was a young priest who asked an elder priest this question: “Father, what is the difference between a sinner and a saint?” The old priest answered: “The sinner is one who prays, ‘Lord, I am not a sinner. I am already saint. I don’t have big sins, so why I have to go to Mass on Sunday and pray?’ The saint is one who prays: “Lord, I am a great sinner, but I want to be saint. So, I have to go to Mass on Sunday and pray.’”
In the Jewish religion, Sabbath is an important weekly observance to mark the close of the seven-day week, a day when all Jews would abstain from any kind of work. Sabbath observance has a humanitarian reason because slaves at that time were guaranteed a rest from their labors. It has a religious reason in observing it because it became a holy time, a holy day by which people imitated the sacred rest of God on the seventh day after creation. Observance of the Sabbath made the Jews distinct from foreigners. They made the day holy by gathering in holy assembly in the temple or in the synagogue in order to offer sacrifice or interpret the Holy Scripture.
So Sabbath is a positive one. It was released to benefit the people rather than to trap if they made the wrong move. But Pharisees put so many rigid prohibitions by which people could not bear them anymore. And there were 39 prohibitions, among them were reaping, threshing and preparing food; also visiting the sick, clapping of hands, healing unless it was to save life were also included in the list of prohibitions. The first three prohibitions, the disciples of Jesus violated them and Jesus violated the fourth one. But Jesus refuted them by saying that, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The implication is: observance of Sabbath is irrelevant when it is not coupled with love and action for God and neighbor which sums up the moral life of a believer like us.
For us Christians especially Catholics, our Sabbath is Sunday, the day of the Lord. Sunday is the Christian Sabbath. May be it is good to talk about Sunday. The reason behind why we chose Sunday as our Christian Sabbath or day of rest.
Sunday in our Christian faith has so many names. For example, it is called the Lord’s Day. This name is found in the Bible and also in Christian tradition. It indicates that Sunday has a special relationship to the Lord, the glorified Christ. This is His day on which the community gathers for the celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist or His Body and Blood and the Lord becomes present in midst of his faithful in a sacramental way. It’s a day of celebrating the sacraments especially the Eucharist and Baptism.
It is called also as Sun-day. The Old Romans had dedicated this day to the divinity of the sun which was one of the main gods of the Roman Empire and very much venerated.
The sun is truly a fitting symbol of what Christ is for the life of each one of us and the world. It gives not only light and expels darkness but it is also through the sun that life and growth become possible. The sun also gives warm and takes away the cold; it is full of energy and power. That is why for some the darkening of the sun is one of the phenomena indicating the coming judgment (Mtt 24:29).
Sunday is also called a Day of Rest. This is not a name for Sunday in the strict sense of the word but a distinctive aspect of it. It is important to stress that the day of rest does not abstain from work only, but also we want to consider and ponder the great work God did for us in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not working is also a symbol in the sense that all our activities could never bring salvation. Salvation is a gift from God
To summarize it Sunday is: the day which belongs to the risen Lord; the day on which the community of the Christian celebrated and still celebrates the sacraments; the day of salvation assuring Christians of their final election (quasi-sacrament). It is the day on which the final time has begun and the covenant with the church and many more.
So let us use Sunday as a day for doing these things that I mentioned a while ago. Let us reserve this for God alone, for prayer and worship to Him.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B
See Other Homily Sources