The First Reading should be very familiar to all of us today. It is the statement of the Ten Commandments. Often we see the Commandments as restrictive with their “Thou shalt not.” But, as Scripture scholars have reflected, they are actually meant to be freeing. By pointing out ten things we are NOT to do, God frees up thousands of things we are free to do. And, any of us reading the Commandments or reflecting upon them, would agree that they are a good base line for behavior. Isn’t it preferable that we do not have people robbing one another? Isn’t it stabilizing for marriage and family life that couples do not cheat on one another.
The one commandment that goes most ignored these days, I believe, is “Keep holy the sabbath.” So many other things get in the way of modern men and women—sports, grocery shopping, working, sleeping in, that we can hardly find time to go to Church, much less to make Sunday a different kind of day than the other six. Besides being one of the Ten Commandments, we fail to recognize that taking a Sabbath is actually GOOD for us! We all need time to change the routine, slow down, reflect, spend time with family and friends. People are so stressed today and our rate of burnout is so bad because we ignore a common sense command of God. Ask yourself, “Is anyone better off NOT going to church?” I cannot imagine, even if it is the most boring Mass or Homily in the world (and when would you experience that here at St. Mark?!) that we would actually be better off NOT going to Mass where we experience God in His Word and His Body and Blood.
Encourage your family members and friends to change their routine and frenetic pace and come to Church. Or, if you are one of those who only comes once or twice a month, take the Lord at His word and keep one of His commandments, “Keep holy the sabbath.”