30 October, Friday — Observing the Sabbath

Friday of Week 30 in Ordinary Time

Phi 1:1-11
Lk 14: 1-6

Which of you here, if your son ox falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a sabbath day without hesitation?”

Today’s gospel reading is especially relevant to me, especially with regards to observing the Sabbath. As an academic, I have been privileged to be engaged in work that stimulates me intellectually and grants me the freedom to express my views and ideas through my writing. As a writer, I have been blessed with the inspiration and stamina to continuously produce my books and articles.

However, there is a serious downside to all this, one that all spouses of academics and writers will know very well — the inability to stop writing and the eventual fusing of weekends and weekdays. Early in our marriage, my wife had frequently complained of my tendency to bring my laptop out with me every day, even over the weekends, and to steal a few minutes of writing over coffee or when she is at the shops.

It goes without saying that many Sundays have been spent writing as well. Sometimes I hide behind editorial deadlines as a shield against any potential questions about observing the Sabbath. Other times, I argue that writing is not so much ‘work’ per se but an essential part of my being, much like breathing or eating. But deep down inside, I know that all these are (highly legalistic) excuses.

The truth is that I have been neglecting my relationship with God on that most holy day of the week. The question is not whether I work on Sunday or not, but whether I do God’s work on Sunday or not. In the gospel reading, Jesus shows that He is willing to go against legalistic understandings of holy scripture and heal the sick on the Sabbath day, because He knows (and has told us) that the most important commandment of all is to love our neighbour.

Jesus expresses His love for us by healing us, regardless of which day it is or what time of day it happens to be. He does it because He is love, and we are His beloved. We often hear that love is hard work, and it is true. It is a tough slog of putting others before us, loving them despite their imperfections, and dying to ourselves so that we do not elevate our needs above others. Such is the type of work that God wants us to do, not just on the Sabbath, but every day of our lives.

(Today’s Oxygen by Jacob Woo)

Prayer: Lord, we pray for the wisdom to discern our vocation in this world, and the patience to do the hard work of love for others.

Thanksgiving: We are thankful for the love that has been bestowed upon us by our Lord Jesus, and for the chance to do His work in our everyday lives.

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