“Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. And whoever enters into God’s rest, rests from his own works as God did from his. Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.” (Heb 4:9-11)
Vacation time has arrived. Thanks be to God! We all need some time to rest and it is important to do so. Even God rested. “On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation” (Gen 2:2-3). As we enter the summer months, I would like to take some time to reflect on the value God gave “resting” since the foundation of the world.
To rest means to be in a state of peace. The seventh day of creation is a day of peace, all was in communion with Him. No conflict separated creation from its Maker. All was under His loving gaze. God rested not in his success, but in His love for His work. Not much after creation, man stained God’s work. If God had found His rest in the success of His work, He would have destroyed it and started again, but He didn’t. He is pleased with His creation, because it is His. We are His. We are the object of the rest of God. How wonderful is this! The history of salvation is about man’s journey to enter this rest. However, it is only until Christ, as man, after his Passion the doors to enter God’s rest are opened.
During the three days between the Passion and Resurrection, man for the first time enters into the rest of God. God recreates the world in Christ, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2Cor 5:17). Redemption is a new work of creation – to live the same life that Christ lived. To enter His rest and to find His peace is to live according to the new creation.
For most of us, our plan this summer is to get away from our work, our studies, our conflicts, and anything else that seems to get in the way of our resting. The fact is that our life is full of struggles and it seems like the summer months are the best time to run from them. But this is the wrong attitude to have as we begin vacation. Christ tells us, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11:28-30).
Christ invites us to rest in Him. This doesn’t mean that we have to spend vacation in church or on our knees (although a little more prayer would probably do us good). However, it does mean that the only way we can rest is if we not make the center of our attention not being disturbed. To enter the rest of Christ, we need to enter His work of Redemption; we need to live as He did. We can enter His Redemption by offering ourselves for the good of others. If we are enclosed in ourselves then we do nothing for the good of man and even arrive to a point of self-destruction. Pope Francis tells us in Evangelii Gaudium that, “to be self-enclosed is to taste the bitter poison of immanence, and humanity will be worse for every selfish choice we make” (EG. 87). Therefore, when vacation and rest is about how much ‘I can get out of it,’ we don’t rest, but rather destroy our humanity.
As a conclusion, God rested by loving His creation, and continued to love His people until death on the cross. This same love that opens the door for us to enter His rest, we are called to imitate in order to be able to enter His rest. The dignity that we have as His creatures can be lost when we live only under our own gaze hidden from the gaze of God, thus distorting the image God has of us, which is much greater than we could ever imagine. This summer, live under God’s loving gaze, and let His gaze shine through you. I guarantee you will have the best summer of your life!
photo credit: Megan Trace