10 Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”
“Sit down.” How many times in my life have I been told to sit down. The experiences range from polite or friendly invitations to reprimands from teachers or officials. The words can either place me in a relaxed mode or portend discipline or worse.
How many times have I been invited by God to “sit down” and watch, “sit down” and listen, “sit down” and learn? Being and A-type personality, I ignore You, and rush around like Martha, anxious and worried about many things, while You are trying to tell me: There is need of only one thing, sitting beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. [Lk 10: 39, 41-42]
Instead, I am probably throwing up objections to why I am sooo busy,…playing the martyr host, making everybody else happy while forcing myself to run myself ragged and all the time, at least thinking, if not voicing the chastisement: Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me. [Lk 10:40]…ah, reminisces of the pity pot… lording it over others as goody-two-shoes playing the “humble” servant and making d-mn sure everybody knows it! Hubris comes in all shapes and sizes…one for every occasion.
When God tells me to “sit down,” “take a load off your feet,” Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while, [Mk 6:31], it is probably wise to do so. Indeed, He may also be saying, “Sit down and learn something!”
Maybe that is what is behind the third commandment: Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God. You shall not do any work,…For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. [Ex 20:8-11]
God must really, really like the Sabbath, the rest, the holiness. He certainly has a lot to say about it: “…it represents the longest of the Decalogue’s precepts.”
Why the big deal about resting? What is the relationship between resting and keeping it holy? Keep my sabbaths, for that is to be the sign between you and me throughout the generations, to show that it is I, the LORD, who make you holy. [Ex 31:13] I guess You want to make me holy as You are holy [1 Pet 1:16; Lev 11:44, 19:2]…and this is where you start.
Maybe You are saying, rest and don’t work: “…do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” [Mt 6: 25, 32-33]
Scripture gives two reasons for the Sabbath:
- God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation. [Gen 2:3]
- Remember that you too were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and the LORD, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. That is why the LORD, your God, has commanded you to observe the sabbath day. [Deut 5:15]
Both have to do with God’s work and God’s resting and You wanting us to reflect on the fact that it is You who create, You who care for us, You who rescue us when we are slaves.
Maybe the way we are made holy is to sit at your feet and listen and learn. Maybe the Sabbath is to teach me to depend, not on my frenetic efforts, but to pay attention to what is really going on. I can labor for six days and do all my work…but, in the end, it is You, God, who are in charge. It is You, God, who provide all I need. It is You, God, who wants me to have a “time out” to sit by myself, to sit with You, to sit with our family, our friends, our congregation, and listen.
And, like the 5000 men plus women and children who are being told by the disciples to “sit down,” we too are sitting in the presence of the God/Man. We too are about to witness a miracle. We too are about to be fed…not just loaves and fish, but the bread from heaven.
Shhhh! I come in a still small voice. [1 Kgs 19:12] Be still and know that I am God. [Ps 40:10]
 Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
 NABRE Note on Ex 20:8.