One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?”
And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath;so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
How well do we honor the Sabbath? Do we take a day of rest to glory in the beauty and gifts of God? Do we allow others to rest in God’s comfort as well? The tradition of Sabbath is rich with meaning and purpose. From personal rest, to responsibility to labor, the Sabbath invites us to focus on God as the priority of our lives.
The Sabbath comes from the Law of Sevens in Judaism, or certain times divided into sevens to help us preserve and improve our relationship with God and others. The laws even apply to animals! Greedy landlords once tried to make the week ten days, but the horses started dying of exhaustion. Taking every seventh day to rest helps us focus on God as the goal of our work, not our ownership. Do I enjoy on God’s love and caring, particularly on my day of rest? After all, God rested to admire creation, including us.
The Sabbath also invites us to ensure rest for others. Jewish law prescribes that all enjoy the fruits of rest. Do I support just working conditions and wages? Do I love my neighbor and their work? Love of neighbor is a vital aspect of our and other’s evangelization, the realization of the Good News. Today’s Gospel invites us to reflect on our time with Christ, enjoying and living in Christ’s love. It also asks us to love our neighbor and the dignity of all work.
The Gospel asks these questions of me: Do I spend time to rest and acknowledge of the love of God? Do I take time for prayer like the Examen to recognize God’s handy work? Do I support the rest of others as well as my own?
—Ken Homan, S.J. is a Jesuit brother from the Wisconsin Province. He is currently studying history and theology at Fordham University, New York.
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
For details about each step of the Examen, read How Can I Pray?