June 2, 2024

Dt 5: 12-15; Ps. 81: 3-4. 5-6. 6-8. 10-11; 2 Cor 4: 6-11; Mk 2: 23-3:6

Theme: The Liberative and Redemptive Power of the Sabbath

The readings speak of two transformative powers of the Sabbath: liberation and redemption. The book of Deuteronomy and Psalms explicitly underline the liberating power of the Sabbath. It is both a remembrance and an everlasting celebration of the faithful people of God. As a remembrance, God reminds his beloved people of their enslavement before His intervention. He says, “And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to celebrate the sabbath day (Dt. 5:15).” As an everlasting celebration, the faithful people are eternally grateful for God’s divine providence and love. Without this, the people of Israel would have remained enslaved.

Thus, the Sabbath secures the hearts and minds of God’s people to be with Him and to keep the unconditional command: “There shall be no foreign god among you; you shall not bow down to an alien god” (Ps 81:10). The liberating power of the Sabbath is not just in the memorializing of the great historical event, or mere observance of such, but most importantly, in recognizing and accepting that the Sabbath speaks of God’s revelation of himself freely disclosing His self to us. We remember the qahal at Mt. Sinai, through God’s initiative, invited them to enter a covenant with Him. Here, we find a remarkable sign of God’s willingness to self-disclose despite the utter skepticism of some people. However, the Sabbath does not just offer the liberation of one’s state of being or condition. The Sabbath possesses redemptive power as well. Here, we learn from Christ an alternative perspective of the Sabbath, i.e., not simply following the rigor of the celebration or a brief suspension of daily activities, but for Christ, the observance of the Sabbath goes beyond the strict legalist perspective. Rather, it goes beyond this. The Sabbath, for Christ, remains an emblem of God’s redemptive power because, through His revelation to us, redemption makes sense. It is through Christ that God’s revelation continues unfolding.

Again, such a revelation of one’s divine nature was free. Through Christ, the Sabbath actualizes its redemptive power in such a way that, for Christ, the Sabbath must not serve as an impediment to people’s well-being. Rather, the Sabbath must serve to redeem these people from their suffering, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick” (Mark 2:17). In other words, the Sabbath actualizes mercy and compassion. It redeems itself to itself and from itself, what was lost due to a limited view of the Sabbath and its essential nature. Through Christ, the Sabbath becomes a great opportunity to seize the most valuable treasures, though a ‘jar of clay’ – every individual’s meaningful life regardless of social or economic status. Christ’s version of the Sabbath does not exclude but includes all as part of a community. These powers are transformative, as the terms suggest. The transformation is seen in how we take the Sabbath to be.

For Reflection and Discussion: In what ways does the Sabbath speak of liberation and redemption in your life? At what moments in your life do you feel liberated and redeemed?

Bibliography: New American Standard Bible

This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Ben Carlo N. AtimPhilippines, Bat Kol Alumna/Alumnus: 2022


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