THE SUNDAY HOMILY: Back to Basics - Living the Sabbath
Something has changed.
It seems as if Sunday is just another day just like all of the other days of the week.
This Sunday's liturgy speaks to us about something which is fundamental for our lives as a Catholic people: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind" (Matthew 22: 37).
One of the principle ways in which we live out these words of Jesus is through our celebration of the weekly Sabbath.
Let us recall the words of Sacred Scripture regarding the third of the Ten Commandments:
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus 20: 8-11).
During his pontificate, Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote an excellent document on how we must live each Sunday.
Regarding the Third Commandment he wrote, "In setting this commandment within the context of the basic structure of ethics, Israel and then the Church declare that they consider it not just a matter of community religious discipline but a defining and indelible expression of our relationship with God, announced and expounded by biblical revelation.
But, man's relationship with God also demands times of explicit prayer, in which the relationship becomes an intense dialogue, involving every dimension of the person. The Lord's Day is the day of this relationship par excellence when men and women raise their song to God and become the voice of all creation" (Dies Domini; 13, 15).
I am sure that we will all agree that the Sunday that we lived as children is something of the past. However, I believe that as a Catholic people, we need to recuperate the real meaning of Sunday as the Lord's Day and witness to all those around us the proper way to live out the weekly sabbath.
Secularism and materialism are trying to eradicate all sense of God and true religious practices from our modern society.
A very well known businessman told me that one day he gathered all of his employees together for a short meeting. Even though he is a Muslim, he attends Mass every Sunday with his Catholic wife. He knows that most of his employees are baptized Catholics. He expressed his concern about the morals of many of his employees and he urged them to go to Mass every Sunday and get things right with God.
During the meeting, he asked his employees if they knew what Easter is all about. One girl said, "That's the day the Jesus was born." Filled with amazement, he then said to the group, "Tell me then, what is Christmas all about?" Another girl said, "That's the day when we give presents to each other."
If people do not know what Christmas and Easter are all about, how will anyone even grasp the meaning of Sunday? For all Christian people, Sunday is the weekly celebration of Easter. "Sunday is a day which is at the very heart of the Christian life" (Dies Domini; 7).
How then are we to live the Sabbath, the Lord's Day? There are two fundamental aspects to the Sabbath.
First, we need to worship at our parish and secondly we must refrain from all unnecessary physical work.
Regarding the first practical aspect of the Sabbath, Sunday worship must be at the very center of our lives.
Pope Paul VI once said: "The Mass is the most perfect from of prayer." Saint Gregory the Great wrote that "the heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."
Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests said: "If we really understand the Mass, we would die of joy."
And the beloved Saint Padre Pio said that "it would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without the Holy Mass."
We need to go to church every Sunday unless we are sick or the weather keeps us inside our homes. We need to dress appropriately for Mass, because the church is God's house. We need to worship at Mass with full and active participation.
Punctuality is a must.
The second aspect of our Sabbath is the prohibition from all unnecessary physical ...
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