Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
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.
In today’s first reading, Isaiah reminds his Jewish audience of the importance of sabbath. The Israelites were forbidden from doing any work on what was supposed to be a day of rest. In our culture, we have mostly lost the sense of sabbath, or a day focused on God. Sundays are typically as packed as other days of the week, with work or other obligations creeping in to our time of prayer, rest, and renewal.
Rather than looking at the sabbath as simply a day to stop doing things, Isaiah tells us to look at it as “a delight.” It is is a time for “not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs.” The sabbath can be action oriented, a time for us to serve God and serve our neighbor.
What would it look like if we took specific moments out of our days and weeks to pause for prayer, and then to move into action? What are ways that you can bring sabbath moments into your days?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
Lord God, you gave us the gift of the sabbath as a time to look beyond ourselves and focus on you and those around us. When we get busy and overwhelmed, nudge our hearts as a reminder to pause and give you thanks. When we are consumed by our own desires, remind us to take the time to serve others. Help us to make sabbath a part of our lives. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team