Our Rest from the Toil

While reading Genesis recently, I started pondering my family’s level of busyness and the copious amount of activity being undertaken recently. The children are exceedingly busy with the demands of their rigorous Catholic school…demands which, lately, cause me to question whether I’m only burdening them, rather than blessing them. I’ve found myself in the habit of adding on work hours for financial gain, which seems reasonable at the time of scheduling; then, when the time comes to apply myself to those hours, I see them as possibly mistaken priorities. There are myriad examples of this in our lives right now. There is not a lot of rest.

Is busyness a sin? Not necessarily. It is a curse, a “human condition,” a state over which we have some control and an obligation to discern. However, it seems presumptuous to think we can or should seek to escape it entirely, as God does not tell us in Scriptures that we are to kick back from the rigors of our responsibilities and let someone else shoulder our burdens on earth.

God made a mandate that we rest once a week, just as He did in creation. He not only created; He stopped and admired and appreciated all that had happened by His Mighty Arm. He did not make man for the Sabbath, but He made Sabbath for man, a merciful mandate which looked to our fallen state when He unfortunately had to tell Adam:

“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread til you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)

While we might find ourselves burdened with the work involved in our day to day lives, the sin is not in the busyness and the tending to these responsibilities, but rather, the failure to stop for a while, giving to God some time each week to be replenished spiritually and physically.

In my recent re-reading of Genesis, a thread appeared to me which I had overlooked before. In Genesis 5:28, we read of Lamech, father of Noah:

“When Lamech had lived a hundred and eighty-two years, he became the father of a son, and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground which the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands.”

From this survivor of the flood would come the generations leading to the birth of our Savior, within Whom we find eternal peace and true rest.

Ultimately, God has given us the greatest gift of all: His Son, Jesus Christ, Who “immediately on the Sabbath…entered the synagogue and taught.” (Mark 1:21) He IS the Sabbath. And look how amazing this is…

Jesus Himself gives us the Bread from Heaven. He feeds us the Bread of Life in the Holy Eucharist, and we do not have to work for this at all. From sin we are cursed to eat bread in the sweat of our face; in Jesus Christ, we are fed with the very Sabbath Rest Himself, Who takes away the sins of the world, has mercy on us, receives our prayers, and feeds us personally. WHOA.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener… ~John 20:15 (It was!)

Sometimes, I wake up on Sunday mornings wishing I could just sleep in. Getting all our kids out the door seems like work, not rest. I confess to having done my share of grumbling. But look what happens so humbly and miraculously each and every Sunday. Jesus feeds us with His Body and Blood, giving us Bread from Heaven as the antidote to our cursed humanity. There is salvation one-on-one by the Gardener Himself.

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