Jesus’ point was not so much about overturning religious law as it was about compassion. The heart of this teaching is found in its first part: “The Sabbath was made for humankind.” The fourth commandment, to honor the Sabbath, is about honoring God, and it is also about honoring human life as part of God’s creation. The Sabbath was created for our own well being and for the nourishing of our lives in relationship to God and other creatures.
We all sense that work alone is not sufficient for our lives to flourish. We know that rest and relaxation are key components of healthy lives. Yet despite our best intentions, we often end up turning all our time into work time—even our leisure becomes anxious and busy. Even in our life together as Christians and as the Church, we allow the work and play rhythms of our society to control our sense of Sabbath.
God invites us to rest in Him and come to know Him more fully through Sabbath rest that is radically different from the usual ways of the world. We will learn more about the trust and openness of those ways in our readings this Sunday about God’s calling to Samuel and about Jesus’ presenting himself as “lord of the Sabbath.”
I hope you can be present for an hour of Sabbath time that you can take with you into the week ahead.