Commentary on the Gospel of
Spring here in the Midwest is a glorious time as flowers and trees bloom and nature comes to life. The warmer temperatures encourage us to spend more time outside enjoying exercise and safely socializing. This time of year also brings the ritual of Spring cleaning which inspired me to do some major organizing of my bookshelves. As I was digging through old favorites and titles I have been wanting to read, a book on the Sabbath fell off the shelf to the floor. As I picked up the book I wondered when I would ever have time to take an entire day for a Sabbath. Then I stepped back to admire by beautifully organized bookshelf.
Today’s Gospel from John evokes contrasting emotions from me. The assurance of the love of Jesus is so comforting. Yet as soon as Jesus mentions the commandments I begin to feel fear as I have always found the commandments a bit intimidating. As the gospel reading continues , Jesus is inviting me to feel joy. That gives me the encouragement to spend some time in prayer with the commandments.
My heart was drawn to the third commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. Happily a sense of curiosity came over me and I remember the book that had fallen to the floor during my recent Spring cleaning of my bookshelf. The author of Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest, Wayne Muller, writes: Sabbath time can be a revolutionary challenge to the violence of overwork, mindless accumulation, and accomplishments. Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know, and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity.
In addition to a sacred day of the week, Sabbath can be framed as a way of being. How often I pray for the grace to hear the voice of God. The commandment of keeping the Sabbath holy is not an obligation but rather a generous gift of time and space to be with and for God. Muller offers many ways to honor the Sabbath around the themes such as rest, rhythm, time, happiness and wisdom. Being guided by the commandments is how we can experience the complete joy that Jesus wants for us. This invitation to reimagine my time and energy in the frame of the Sabbath is a true gift from God.