09 Sept 2017: Mere Rules Vs Meaningful Life

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Saturday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1: Colossians 1:21-23; Gospel: Luke 6:1-5

“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy” is the third commandment among the Ten Commandments. The Jewish religious leaders multiplied this one law into numerous laws for the people to follow. They got so obsessed with the observance of these laws that they lost sight of the purpose behind the law. Eventually they ended up even prohibiting any good that could be done on a sabbath day (Lk 13:14) and questioned any failure to adhere as in today’s Gospel.

Originally, God blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it (Ex 20:11). Anything that is consecrated is set apart for God. Hence the sabbath day was supposed to be set apart for God and was to be spent in prayer and worship. But the Pharisees lost sight of this purpose and were merely concerned with observing the prohibitions. They were more worried about what should not be done, and forgot about what was to be done, namely to consecrate the day to God.

As Christians, Sunday is our sabbath day – set apart for God. But have we really set apart that day for God? A mere glance into our activities on Sunday would tell us that it is a day of relaxation, enjoyment, etc. It is also a day when we catch up with all that we have not been able to do during the week. With the Sunday Mass our obligation is over, whether we even attend it from the beginning to the end is out of the question. For most people, Sunday is a holiday and this applies even to family prayer (if at all there is such a custom of praying together). If this is how we spend the ‘day of the Lord’, then we will be no different from the Pharisees.

‘Keep it holy’ applies to every hour of the day and to every activity that we indulge in. It is not reduced to attending Sunday Mass. Tomorrow is Sunday. How am I going to spend it? Would it be consecrated to the Lord? Am I ready to keep it holy? May the Lord help us in this endeavour to go beyond mere rules to understand the purpose behind and live a meaningful life.

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