The Sin Against the Sabbath

(Homily for Tenth Ordinary Sunday - Year C)

Message: Sloth is the sin against the Sabbath - a refusal to do the most important task, to worship God.

As summer comes near, I would like to speak about the sin of sloth, also known as, laziness. I know what some of you are thinking, "Oh, no. I've worked hard - or studied hard. I'm ready for a little relaxation. Father Bloom wants to spoil my fun."

Let me put your mind at rest. When Christian writers warned about the sin of sloth, they were not trying to get people to fill every waking moment with work. In some ways, just the opposite. St. Thomas called sloth "the sin against the Sabbath."

The sin against the Sabbath. You remember in the Bible the Sabbath is the seventh day - the day when God rests after the work of creation. He makes the Sabbath "holy" - that is, a day set apart. It becomes the most important day of the week - a day dedicated to God.

Sloth is the sin against the Sabbath - a refusal to do the most important task, to worship God. As the Catechism says, "acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness." (#2094)

A Seattle businessman once said that he has more productive things he can do on Sunday morning. But he missed the point. The most productive thing any human can do is spend time with God, to worship him.

We can see this in today's readings. There is a curious verse in St. Paul's letter to the Galatians. He mentions that after his conversion, (quote) "I went into Arabia." We don't know with 100% certainty but he apparently wanted time alone, with God, out in the desert - a place without distractions. St. Paul teaches us wonder and gratitude - thanking God for his mercy. That's what we do at Mass; the word "Eucharist" means to express thanks.

From gratitude flows wonder and praise. It's interesting that we hear today about a boy and a young man brought back from death. These miracles caused people to praise God. The Gospel says, "They glorified God." At Mass when the priest holds up the Host - the Body of Christ - many people quietly say, "My Lord and my God" - a beautiful act of glorifying God.

It should be a moment of joy and peace, but it can be the hardest thing a person does all week. A hundred things have more appeal: sports, TV, the Sunday paper, the Internet.* All these things can be good, but if we put these things above God, they become idols.

I want to say this delicately, but many people make sports into an idol. You can see that in the way sports have taken over Sunday morning. We could benefit from the example of Eric Liddell. If you saw Chariots of Fire you might remember him: in the 1924 Olympics, he refused to run his best event, the 100 meter, because the heats took place on Sunday. What an model for young people today. Liddell was an extraordinary athlete, but he put God - the Lord's Day - first.*

The sin of sloth happens when we avoid our genuine duty. A person can be working hard, but still be lazy - if he is not doing what he is supposed to. Let me give you a personal example. A few years back my niece had to do an errand. She put me in charge of her son, my grand-nephew. He started getting out books and games. All of a sudden, the thought struck me that I should unload the dishwasher. Anyone coming in might thinking I was hard at it, but in fact I was being lazy. I should have been with my nephew. The dishwasher could have waited. Something similar applies to our relationship with God. A guy might look like he's working hard, he might even be congratulating himself on his diligence, but in reality he is lazy. He's avoiding the most important work. He's guilty of sloth - the sin against the Sabbath.

So, summer begins shortly. I hope you have time for relaxation - time for family and friends, but above all for what matters most. When you put God first, everything else will find its right place. That's why it's natural after Sunday worship to have family time - or quiet time or time for good reading or even a nap.

Remember Paul, "I went to Arabia." The desert - the place of encounter, wonder and gratitude. As we said in the Psalm, "I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me..." "And they glorified God." Amen.


*In 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness, Eric Metaxas tells "the rest of the story" about Liddell.

this is the first homily on Tenth Ordinary Sunday - Year C

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From Archives (Homilies for Tenth Sunday, Year C):

2016: Becoming a Disciple Week 1
2013: The Sin Against the Sabbath

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Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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