Monday, October 29, 2007

Keep the Sabbath holy? I'd rather go shopping.

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
October 29, 2007
Mass Readings:
Romans 8:12-17
Luke 13:10-17

I had a strange experience yesterday. I had finished up the last mass of the day and I was looking at the list of things I needed to get done. I need to get a new passport photo taken so I got in my car and thought I would hop down to the corner Walgreens and get it taken. I developed a knot in my stomach. I started remembering when I was a kid how most all the stores were closed on Sunday except for drug stores. Even few grocery stores were open. I didn't get that photo taken. I couldn't bring myself to spend money on Sunday. I pondered that the rest of the day.

I remembered how when I was a kid, we spent time together as a family. I would go bike riding with my friends after church. We fixed dinner and sat together while we ate at the kitchen table. Sunday was always about church and family when I was a kid. After church there was the understanding that the front door was open and family and friends would get together. I miss that. I am only 40 years old yet I remember a time when Sunday was holy. I know, I'm getting nostalgic and that is always tricky. Nostalgia can often times be more about what we once hoped for but never had, yet I have talked about this with other folk my age and they remember it this way too. There is something true here.

I got up this morning and checked the readings and lo and behold, Jesus talks about the Sabbath and what it means to keep it holy. God was working on me yesterday. Jesus is faced with some self righteous folk who want to accuse Jesus of not keeping the Sabbath holy because he had the audacity to heal! Apparently watering an animal on the Sabbath was holy but healing someone was a violation! Nice.

How do we keep the Sabbath holy? Each of us do it differently. Going to Mass is a part of our Sabbath celebration. But what do we do after that? Are we obsessing over whether Mass goes 50 or 55 minutes just because we have to hit the mall at a certain time? Do we treat Sunday as merely another shopping day? Is the Sabbath just another day of business because we have crammed the other six days so full we use Sunday as an overflow day?

After my experience yesterday I think I miss those blue laws. Maybe we would spend more time with family and friends if we didn't hit the latest sale at the mall. Maybe we would be less tense if we actually took a day of rest. Maybe we would be happier if we actually took a day to slow down and reconnect. One thing I know for sure, we would spend more time with God if we viewed the Sabbath as a gift and not merely an obligation. Mass should be a time to be with family and friends as we celebrate and worship God together. Then, as we leave Mass, wouldn't it be nice to spend time with each other instead of fighting check-out lines at the local big box store? What a novel idea. Spending time with God and family on the Sabbath. Now that sounds like a holy time.