Saturday, March 18, 2006

'I delivered you from slavery: rest in Me' (Sunday homily)

In the first reading,
we heard the Ten Commandments.
Remember, God gave them after
he delivered his people from slavery in Egypt.

So the first commandment is:
Know who delivered you!

And worship him alone!
We’ve heard the phrase,
Jesus is the "Alpha and the Omega,"
the beginning and the end.

It’s pretty simple: if we put Jesus first—
if knowing and serving him is the "alpha,"
of our lives, every day;
then we have nothing to worry about
when we come to the Omega

the end—of our lives!

Look at the third commandment:
"Keep holy the Sabbath Day."
The Sabbath is the "seventh day": Saturday.
"In six days the Lord made
the heavens and the earth…
on the seventh day the Lord rested."

Yet we observe Sunday—
the first day, not the seventh.
Did you ever wonder about that?

The reason is Jesus!
Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday:
That makes Sunday not only the first day…
but also, the Eighth day:
that is, the First Day of the new Creation!

Isn’t that neat?
So we don’t keep the Sabbath
as Moses taught,
but we don’t just set it aside, either.

Recall what God said:
on the seventh day, "no work may be done…
by you, or your son or daughter"—
no, not even a slave—not even by your animals!

Remember, they were slaves in Egypt:
That’s what God delivered His People from!
So: do you think it’s important to God
that you and I never go back to that?

It’s not that work is bad; but about priorities.
Many of us say, "I like to work! I enjoy it."
That’s fine—but we still need rest, and time,
to know God better; to know our faith better.
If not for ourselves,

then for all the folks around us
who still follow false gods!
You and I are sent, like Moses,
to bring them deliverance
through the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Here’s something St. Augustine said:
"For we shall ourselves be the seventh Day,
when we shall be filled and replenished
with God’s blessing and sanctification . . .
when we are (completely) restored by Him
and made perfect with greater grace,
we shall have eternal leisure

to see that He is God,
for we shall be full of Him

when He shall be all in all."

Every one of us needs this—

for ourselves and for others!

Now, many folks have to work

on the Lord’s Day.
I understand that;

this is not a condemnation at all.
Instead, it’s to say this:

To the extent people still bear
this burden of work,
keeping them from their rest in the Lord,
then the liberation God sent through Moses
isn’t finished, is it?

If you think this has social and political implications—
you’re absolutely right!

Does it seem to you that creating jobs
and opportunity are a priority for our state?

Maybe you and I need
to be telling our political leaders,
business leaders, union officials, others,
what God said to Pharaoh:
"Let my People go!"

Some of us slave away, even on the Lord’s Day,
not because we absolutely have to,
but because those are the priorities we set.
Think about how many sports, school,
and community activities crowd into Sunday?
More and more say how hard

it is just to make it to Mass.

Who will draw the line, if you and I don’t?

We need this time to rest

and discover the Lord,
to be full of him, his blessing and sanctification,
just as St. Augustine said.

In a word? The Eucharist.

This is why we Catholics impose on ourselves
the grave obligation

to attend Mass every Sunday.
And if we have circumstances
keeping us or our families

from Sunday Eucharist?

Then like God’s People in Egypt,
we’re still in bondage,
awaiting the deliverance God promises us.

To whatever holds us back, God still says:
"Let my People go!"

And that goes for this parish—for me, too!
We have a lot generous volunteers:
Thank you for all you do!
But if helping our parish is keeping you
from the Lord’s Day of rest, that’s not right!
As your pastor, I’m saying, talk to me;
and I will work with you,
and I will ask others to help share the burden.

When our Lord drove

the merchants from the Temple,
he wasn’t saying there was no place

for doing business.
Rather, he was saying,

you have to draw the line:
the business of ordinary life has to wait outside,
so that we always find refuge,

to know the Lord.


Deacon Jim said...

Perfect, and I'd like to use it as a pummel on all those who turn Sunday morning to a sports occasion for children.

Anonymous said...


Well - another homerun!! And I agree with Deacon Jim - Sport is our idol. It's MORE important than anything for many families. And like most idols, it starts out as a good - sports are good - but then we make them the alpha - we over do - and then they are our idol.

While you gave a 'actionable item' - (if work at the parish is keeping you from the Sabbath rest - see me) - great - I think that there are other examples you could have given that apply more directly. Such as - if no one (or very few) went to the store on Sunday - retailers would close down because they would lose money. (I can always count on profit working the same way everytime.) So - if you go to the store, mall, etc on Sunday (not an emergency - grab milk or cough medicine) why not arrange it so that you don't go on Sunday - go on Saturday or an evening. If Saturday and evenings are sooooo filled with sporting events, practices, piano lessons, and meetings that you can't - then maybe you need to take a hard look at what is your alpha and ought it not be Who is your Alpha.