Sabbath

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June 3, 2018 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

June 3, 2018
Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
Fr. George Smiga

Rabbi Naomi Levy tells a story about a man in her congregation named Henry. Henry owned a start-up business, and business was booming.  At the age of 36 he had already earned more money than he ever thought he would in his life. He was happily married, and he had a beautiful and energetic young son.

“But something is missing,” he told the Rabbi. “I feel an emptiness inside. I know I shouldn’t complain with all the blessings that I have. But it’s like I’ve forgotten something, and I don’t know what I have forgotten.” “Maybe,” the Rabbi said, “you’ve forgotten your soul.” “But I’m living my dream,” said Henry. “Maybe”, the Rabbi said, “your soul has a different dream.”

As the two of them talked, Henry admitted that he was often distracted at home—always checking in on his phone and iPad, always plugged in. The Rabbi said, “Perhaps you should take the Sabbath more seriously. You know, we Jews believe that one day a week we must disconnect from work. What if one day a week, you turned off all the technology, forgot about your business, and simply spent time with your family and friends?” Henry agreed to this plan, and after a few weeks called the Rabbi back to report. He said, “Rabbi, the first night, I couldn’t stop reaching for my phone so I finally turned it off and put it in a drawer. But it was like I had cut off a limb. I kept waiting for it to ring.” “And now?” said the Rabbi. “Now, I feel that I am better at being a father and husband than I have been in a long time. I celebrate the joy in my son’s eyes when I read him a story. There is no more technology in bed. I fall asleep holding my wife in my arms. The emptiness is gone. I feel rich.” “You are rich,“ said the Rabbi, “for you have moved below the surface of your life and rediscovered your soul.”

This experience of Henry meshes well with today’s feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord. For what we celebrate today is that the real meaning of the Eucharist is not found in seeing the bread and wine, because the bread and wine is only the surface. We believe that beneath the bread and wine is the real and living presence of Christ to us. But, this presence cannot be seen with our eyes, only with our faith. As St. Thomas says in the hymn for today’s feast, “Here beneath the signs are hidden, Precious things to sense forbidden.” The real meaning of the Eucharist is found beneath the bread and wine, below its surface.

The same is true for our lives. That is why it is so dangerous only to live on the surface of our lives – doing more and more, running here and there, always under the control of stress and worry. When we live this way, there is so much of what we have and who we are that we miss. Every so often we must unplug ourselves, so that we can sink below the surface of our lives and again discover who we are and who belongs to us. Jews have chosen Saturday as their day of Sabbath rest. Christians move the Sabbath to Sunday. But the day is not as important as the rest itself.

Today’s feast reminds us that the real meaning is often found below the surface: below the bread and wine, below the hectic energy and activity of our lives. Today our liturgy invites us simply to take time to be: to remember again who Christ is, what Christ has done for us, who we are, and who we belong to.

Take then, a Sabbath. Reconnect to God’s love by setting aside some of the busyness of life and re-embracing the people you love, family and friends. Then, you will be rich. There, you will find your soul.

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