Friday, November 2, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 15): Sabbath is made for man

As he was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Mark 2:23-27

For many Christians, keeping the Lord's day holy means attending church on Saturday evening or Sunday, end of story. I believe this misses the intent of the sabbath. (I realize the sabbath is Saturday, but most Christians interpret keep holy the sabbath (Exodus 20:8) as a commandment now applied to Sunday, the Lord's day.)

The Lord's day is intended to be a day of rest. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus emphasizes that the heart of observing the sabbath is not to follow restrictive or arbitrary rules, but to honor God through a day of rest. Yes, we Catholics are required to go to Mass, but that rule is similar to the law about stopping at stop signs - even if it weren't a law, we would do it because to do otherwise is to court disaster.

I know a handful of adults who use Sunday afternoon or evening as a time to catch up with the demands of their jobs. I know about this because the impending works ruins their day (and sometimes entire weekend). Instead of spending Sunday in joyful appreciation of the blessing of a day of rest, they spend it dreading work that needs to be done. Sunday is no longer the Lord's day; it is a reflection on the stresses of the work week.

I also know many, many students who use Sunday as the time to catch up on homework. Again, this robs the Lord's day of its holiness, focusing attention on mandatory assignments. I operated this way until a year or two into college, when I decided enough was enough. I wanted my Sundays back. I wanted one day a week to truly rest, not plan and stress about what needed to be done next.

Why don't more people want a day of rest? I think people do want it, but don't think they can afford it. Too much to do! Not enough time! That would waste an entire day! But would it, really? Would a day to recuperate and relax with your family truly be a waste? The Lord has given us six days to work. Can't we afford to follow his example and rest on the seventh?

In our household, we avoid any task we don't enjoy on Sundays (except changing diapers...). No yard work, cleaning, dishes, laundry, or job-related activities. Some might consider this extreme; we find it incredibly freeing. Yes, it requires a bit more planning (especially when Peter needed diapers washed every 2-3 days), but it's totally worth it. We have one day, every week, with no stress. Try it! What do you have to lose?


  1. We sort of follow the resting idea too. However it may be more due to laziness more than a direct application... We go to church in the morning and then for most of the afternoon/evening football is on and therefore we hang out watching our teams play and don't do much work. (David goes to see his grandparents for the afternoon/night).

    Nice post!

    1. Laziness can be a step in the right direction. :-)


  2. Very thoughtful post. We also try not to shop on Sunday.