Last month, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the importance of making Sunday a day of rest. Today the family is “threatened by a sort of ‘dictatorship’ of work commitments,” he said. And we must liberate ourselves from this, because:
Sunday is the day of the Lord and of men and women, a day in which everyone must be able to be free, free for the family and free for God. In defending Sunday we defend human freedom!
Earlier this week we reflected on Blessed John Paul II’s Laborem exercens and how, in working, we collaborate “with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity.” So work is vital to our salvation, yes, but so is the Sabbath. John Paul II reminds us of this in his 1998 Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini:
It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfillment in him of the first creation and the dawn of "the new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world's first day and looks forward in active hope to "the last day", when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5).
Sunday is for Christ, and on this day we gratefully adore Him and His creation by receiving the Eucharist.
We are also called to rest, the late Pontiff writes. Not just out of reverence, but out of respect for the Creator who rested on the seventh day. And out of respect for our tired bodies, which cry out for this time to be at peace:
The alternation between work and rest, built into human nature, is willed by God himself, as appears in the creation story in the Book of Genesis (cf. 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11): rest is something "sacred", because it is man's way of withdrawing from the sometimes excessively demanding cycle of earthly tasks in order to renew his awareness that everything is the work of God.
And rest reminds us that everything depends on Him. When we give God our time in a world where time is money, we show a profound trust in Him and our nature. We glorify Him when we rest, and we win a great victory over the king of lies, who constantly whispers “with just a little more time…”
We are also rewarded in many ways when we keep Sunday sacred, John Paul II says, and we can gain a better perspective on things:
…the material things about which we worry give way to spiritual values; in a moment of encounter and less pressured exchange, we see the true face of the people with whom we live. Even the beauties of nature — too often marred by the desire to exploit, which turns against man himself — can be rediscovered and enjoyed to the full.
Let us recommit then, to trust in our God and glorify our Creator. Let us Keep Holy the Sabbath Day!