Dossier Les vacances autrement

Holiday sabbaticals. When rest is necessary for creation

24 juin 2019

« The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath » (Mark 2,27). When he is criticized for his habit of helping the needy on Sabbath day, Jesus recalls the true meaning of this day :  rest for human beings.

« This anthropomorphism is intolerable ! As if God needed to rest ! » This is how I was assailed at the end of a thanksgiving service by a retired philosophy teacher, notorious atheist.  He had come to his former principal's funeral and she had been a pillar of the church where I officiated. Apparently he had only retained the first two chapters of the book of Genesis.

The holidays, more than one deserved rest, the
opportunity to contemplate the Creation@Pixabay

Beyond a literal interpretation

Indeed we can easily reduce these 2 chapters of Genesis to a literal account and feel disturbed – even revolted – by stories which seem to put human intelligence aside and place us in an uncomfortable non-scientific position with regards to the creation of the universe or the evolution of the species... But we can also be carried away by the  wealth of meanings and profound implications which emerge from such texts.

Each day in the Creation narrative  validates a divine Word which becomes dynamic and creative :  God speaks and his Word materializes.  And each day is completed by God's review of what has emerged from this creative Word :  «The Lord saw that it was good », and - even after the Creation of a human being in his own image and resemblance -  that it was « very good ! »

A time to experience more than just a rest...

The 7th day seems to be set apart in this narrative as it  does not begin with « God said... » and seems to imply that God needed a « well deserved rest . »  Nonetheless, this seventh day is an integral part of his creative work : « By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. » and the conclusion sums up the seventh day narrative by « This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. »

Thus the seventh day is not just a day of deserved rest, but a day on which the Lord brings a finishing touch   to the whole of Creation.  And this finishing touch takes the form of a blessing ; God is not only pleased to see that which is « good », or even « very good »,  he chooses to bless that day and make it holy.

Our holidays, like our sabbath days, are not just about what we deserve after the sum of our efforts, but also a gift and a blessing to receive and experience so as to totally finish what we have created, in the contemplation of a larger Creation : one which came long before us and which will continue far beyond us.

Gérald Machabert,
Journal Réveil.