Tuesday 19 January 2021

Second Week in Ordinary Time

Word for today
The Gospel of Mark 2:23-28

The first word

What we normally call commandments are in the Biblical text indicated with the term words,  in Hebrew devarim or word-fulfilment, procedure-indication to function. This concerns the Tables of Testimony or Alliance which are found in Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5. But in reality the first word, the first indication, the first procedure God offered to mankind, the first in time and in hierarchy, can be found even before Exodus and that is in Genesis 2:2-3: And on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had been doing. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because he rested from all the work he had been doing while creating (literal translation from the Hebrew). On the seventh day of creation God explained the procedure to rest and, unlike all the other procedures he would give to humanity later, he not only commanded that it be observed but he himself observed it resting after the work of creation. It is the first procedure that permits human life to be lived in fullness, wellbeing, harmony, it is the first procedure for happiness. This is, in short, the first of all the divine procedures, precisely described with this verb, put in practice by God Himself: shavat- he stopped - he rested.
The shabbat-sabbath procedure says: divide your life into periods lasting seven days: in six, just as in the days of biblical creation, work, sow, harvest, build, think, plan. In the seventh period, just as in the biblical creation, rest. Use the time to rest to free yourself of obligations, of performance anxiety, of omnipotence. Use rest to thank your God with your brothers in Faith, to nurture the people you love, to melt your worries and to loosen your shackles. And celebrate, praise, thank, rejoice and bless. Rest to stay healthy and in harmony with the Whole and the One.
Taking this procedure and stripping away its authority so that it is  eventually forgotten, erasing it from human history and culture, replacing it with economic interests and the ideology of the moment is the stupidity of rash ignorance. Taking this procedure and turning it into a precept, or a sterile obligation, detached from healthy realism, and associating it with numerous obligations or requirements which make life  an exhausting, fanatic tension is the stupidity the barefaced and the arrogant. Procedures are made and given to benefit mankind and men were not made to be put into their service or into their slavery. Only stupidity is forever.