Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time B: Reflctions- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Nine Sunday of Ordinary Time B: Reflections –Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Deut 5: 12-15; Ps 81:3-11; 2 Cor 4:6-11 and Mark 2:23–3:6

What do we do with our “Sabbath”?

Very soon we shall begin Lenten Season one of those intense liturgical times that the Church offers us for prayers, listening and preaching the Word of God. It’s a time for fasting, spiritual renewal and penance. The colors of the Church will also change along with our choice of music at Masses and worships. All these, like any other liturgical functions on Sundays and on our Holy Days of obligations are meant to draw  us closer to God, recognizing His omnipotence through our relationship with one another, the poor,  rich, the sick, the health, the seniors, the youths, the needy, women, children , male and female, without any distinction and discrimination.

Sabbath as we have heard in today’s first reading was one of the principal feast days of the chosen people. It was and still today a day of rest, prayer after 6 days of labor, to commemorate among other things, God marvelous liberation of Israel from Egypt (Deut 5:15). In Sabbath we recognize God as the Master of time and the sovereign of the universe and the provider of all our needs, material and spiritual.

 Today’s first reading evidence the establishment of this day by God. We are told in Deuteronomy Chapter 5, that on Mount Horeb God entered into a covenant with Israel and Moses was an intermediary. God gave the Ten Commandments as well the Sabbath Commandment to Israel “observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy as the Lord your God has commanded you.” Six days you shall labor and do all your works, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.” This law goes back to the Book of Exodus 20:8-11).

But the difference in the Book of Deuteronomy is that human labor is holy. Sabbath in Deuteronomy means the division between work and rest is not to be a matter of social class (slave and alien), gender (son or daughter, male and female) but should be an opportunity for all. We are equal before God. And that was why Moses reminded his audience that “remember that you were once a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God, brought you from there with his strong arm,.” In the Gospels, this will go to sound like the golden rule in Matthew 7:12.
You will recall Jesus himself had great regards for the Sabbath and Jewish feast days. In Luke 2:41 for example, the Holy family frequented the Passover in Jerusalem. But as our Lord, was growing up, into his ministry of love and universal salvation, he noticed that many were abusing the Sabbath, doing what they were not even supposed to on the Sabbath, refusing to great one another, refusing show some little acts of kindness and charity to their neighbor, all in the name the Sabbath- Abuse of religion and the Sabbath.

 For example the disciples of Jesus were reprimanded today by the Pharisees because they ate some grains of wheat on the Sabbath. They plotted against Jesus because he brought compassion and healing mercies upon a sick man who had a withered  hand. Does this sound familiar. Doesn’t it make sense when Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. And the son of Man of course is the Lord of the Sabbath.” What do we do with our worships and Liturgies? Can I be charitable on a Sunday? Can I do something good on a Holy day of obligation? Can I visit the sick on a Sunday?  Can I visit with my mom, dad, uncle, aunt, friend in the nursing home on a Sunday? These may be some of the questions we may want to ask ourselves. Even on my way to the Church on Sunday can I be patient with follow road users at check points and traffic lights? I if have excess food and soda can I drop off some on a Sunday to that beggar or poor fellow there on the street whom I am has no food or something to drink.

Of course, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. The content and the object of our worship is Christ. We are call to manifest his values of love, forgiveness, acts of charity and hope in God’s divine providence and protection, even in times difficulties.

Thus St. Paul says, we are to be the bearers and the conduit of God’s Glory. Even when we are afflicted we are not constrained with the grace God. When perplexed we should not submit to despair. When persecuted let us not feel as if God has abandoned us.

May our worships and faith practicee always be accompanied with Christ’s love, in our compassion for one another, for Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath, the object of or our worship.

Peace be with you!