For some of us, it is going to the Holy Mass and remembering the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross. It is hearing God’s word and remembering His promises and His love.
For some of us, it is hearing God’s word in a congregation or a community.
For some of us, myself included, it is staying productive. Hence, the how-to-maintain-your-productivity-during-weekends post I wrote some time back.
But, how does God really want us to spend our Sundays? Or our Sabbath? Or even that one day we allotted as our rest day? What sacrifice does He want us to make?
Is the sacrifice we make every Sunday enough? While reading the scriptures last week, I came upon this passage:
“Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke? Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh? If you refrain from trampling the sabbath, from following your own pursuits on my holy day; If you call the sabbath a delight, the LORD’s holy day glorious; If you glorify it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs—Then you shall delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” — Isaiah 58:6-7,13-14 NAB
More than the sacrifice we make by going to the Holy Mass or hearing His word in our congregation or community, God wants us to release those who are bound, to set the oppressed free, to feed the hungry, to comfort the afflicted, to bring the homeless into our house, and to clothe the naked. And that doesn’t simply require charity. It requires time. No, it requires sharing our life with them.
He doesn't want us to simply seek our own interests. Because believe me, most of us go to the Holy Mass or to our congregations because of our own interests.
Instead, He wants us to go out of our ways. He doesn’t want us to simply remember the sacrifice Jesus made, but also to live it, to make the same sacrifice for others as well.
Yet, when was the last time you went out of your way for others? When was the last time you shared your life with others, with another person?
I remember what my friend’s family does every Sunday. Aside from hearing God’s word in their congregation, they spend time with a disadvantaged family and share a meal with them.
Feeding the hungry and sharing your bread with the hungry are two different things. One is charity, but the other builds relationships. One is giving, the other is loving. Sharing a meal is a lot more meaningful than simply giving. Sharing a meal with one family may be a lot better than feeding a hundred family. And more importantly, they do it on a weekly basis, not just one-time like what we usually do in our outreach programs.
In today’s fast-paced world, we need to take time to rest. And that’s what our productivity-obsessed culture usually suggests. But, the Sabbath is not just a reminder to rest. It’s a reminder to love those who are disadvantaged. And loving them doesn’t simply mean giving. It means building a relationship with them. It is freeing them from their bonds, sharing our bread with them and eating it with them, it is bringing them to our homes, and clothing them.
And all those are not comfortable in any way. They take time.
To be honest, I haven’t even done this myself, so who am I, really, to say all these to you? But, I wrote this to challenge myself and share that challenge with you. Let’s at least try to make an effort to spend our Sabbath the way God wants to spend it. One of these days for sure.
More importantly, let’s try to live our lives the way God wants us to live it—with love in words, in thoughts, and, most importantly, in action.