Saturday, July 18, 2009

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time: "Rest a while."

Jeremiah 23, 1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2, 13-18; St. Mark 6, 30-34

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." (Mark 6, 31) Rest is part of the cycle of our existence: those who work in the day rest at night, and vice versa; each week we rest from unnecessary labor and shopping on the Lord's Day and share in worship; each year we seek vacation time to rest from work for a period and to spend time with family and loved ones. Our lives show the pattern of seeking rest and throughout it all we look to the eternal rest of heavenly joy.

God's action is the model for human action. If God "rested and was refreshed" on the seventh day, man too ought to "rest" and should let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed." (Exodus 31:17; cf. 23:12) The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money. (Cf. Nehemiah 13:15-22; 2 Chronicles 36:21) (CCC 2172)

The great cultural phenomenon of dissatisfaction and frustration because of life without God has erupted in physical and sexual abuse, an escalating dependence on drugs and alcohol to achieve an illusory sense of peace and well-being, an increasing fixation on the acquisition of money and material goods even through the most violent means, and the great attack on the sacredness of human life in all its stages. All these trends provide abundant evidence that something is missing in the contemporary take on life and work.

Perhaps the greatest sign that human creatures have ruptured their bond with the Creator of life is the increasing custom of working seven days a week. Some people are forced to work seven days a week, and these should seek to take the necessary time on Sunday, or Saturday evening, to worship at Mass. But it is the great number who choose to work on Sunday with no thought of the commandment to rest that undermine their spiritual and physical well-being by disregarding the Creator's instructions for the happiness of we who are made in His image and likeness. Our exhaustion and confusion, "like sheep without a shepherd" can very often be traced to our own disregard for the law of rest, a universal law grounded in our creatureliness which we disregard to our own peril.

" '...he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.' (Mark 6, 34) 'Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' (Matthew 11, 28) In the liturgy our divine and merciful Lord fulfills these and all his promises. Heaven alone is the place of perfect rest and peace. The sacramental liturgy satisfies our hunger for rest through the teaching and presence of Christ, 'seated at the right hand of the Father' in glory. Through the proclamation of the Word and our sharing in the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharistic Sacrifice our Sunday rest becomes a perfect anticipation of eternal rest and peace.

"In the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory." (SC 8; LG 50.) (CCC 1090)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

Meeting Christ in the Liturgy (Publish with permission.)

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