Sabbath Homily–with Compendium, too

Just in time for your summer vacation, if you are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy one…


The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:8)

Whenever the Lord speaks about the sabbath, I try to take note.* [Scroll down or CLICK for a compendium of all the notes I have taken lately.]

Because I, for one, am not good at keeping the sabbath. I daresay that few of us really do it well.

One the seventh day, the Lord gazed upon all the good things He had made. He took delight in the grand spectacle. His work of creation complete, He rested in perfect contemplation.

DanielThe irony of sabbath rest is, of course, that for spiritually slothful people, it is simply impossible.

Sabbath resting comes from the interior peace of knowing that I have generously tackled the task entrusted to me for the past six days. Then, on the seventh, the Lord helps me to recognize that all that work is really His; the task is bigger than me alone

Because it is God Who truly brings about completion and fruition, sabbath resting in the power of God is the only real rest that a human soul can find.

Now, we know that the Lord Jesus spoke infrequently, and rather cryptically, about His identity. Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI has a chapter in his book Jesus of Nazareth about this fact, and he tries to explain the significance of Christ’s use of the phrase “Son of Man” to refer to Himself.

The prophet Daniel spoke of the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds, ushering in the everlasting sabbath of true peace and worship. And Christ referred to this Himself, during His night trial on Holy Thursday, before a few members of the Sanhedrin. “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” For these words, above all, the Lord was condemned—as He knew He would be.

Benedict Jesus of Nazareth InfancyThis mysterious “Son of Man,” the Christ—He is man ‘in full.’ He is man, having attained the full good and purpose of man’s existence. The Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath not just because He is the Creator Who instituted the sabbath in the beginning—which He is—but also because He, Christ—and He alone—truly offers man a sabbath.

Who will give us rest from our weariness, besides Jesus Christ? Who else has come down from heaven, reconciled us as a race to the Father, and then returned to heaven, preparing a place for us there–a place with a perfectly human “shape,” a place to be filled by each of us as the men and women “in full” that we can be, by the grace of Christ?

The Son of Man is Lord of heaven. In heaven, may it please Him to get us there, we will find the true sabbath that our soul’s seek. And in the meantime, when we know that there is a heaven; when we know that, in the Heart of Christ, an eternal sabbath of peace opens up like an ocean—when we know all this above all the other things we know, including the contents of all our endless To-Do lists—when we know Jesus, we can find a way to rest a little and give it all over to God now.


* Third Commandment. * Violating it.

At work while resting. * St. Thomas Aq. “rest and stillness of mind.” * Oomun-pear-sewn made for contemplation

2012 homily on this text. * Sabbathing in no’theas’ a few years back. * Capitals and the “natural.” * Joseph Pieper on taking a day off.

The 21st-Century Third-Commandment Crisis: Part I, Part II


One thought on “Sabbath Homily–with Compendium, too

  1. Father Mark,

    “This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,you shall eat like those who are in flight.” It just doesn’t sound much like the “Sabbath Rest” does it?

    Much of the joy of being Catholic is the acceptance of seeming dichotomies of God’s word to his people. How in the world can one rest while poised to travel? How can one be saved by faith and yet compelled to works? How can one trust in God to provide, while working intensely to provide daily bread for the table?

    It helps to remember that He came to set the world on fire, not for peace; yet, His words and actions are the very essence of peace, tranquility, and serenity — sanity in an insane world.

    In God we trust.



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