Priorities

From the Gospel According to Luke, Chapter 10:38-42, Douay-Rheims, 1582 Anno Domini.

Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord’s feet, heard his word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Heading home from Church every Sunday and driving though several neighborhoods where small businesses flourish and people of all stripes are out conducting business and commerce, the gospel story in the passage above almost always springs to mind. In the United States, Sunday, the day that Christians reserve as the Lord’s Day, the one that we are supposed to keep holy, has become just another day.

This is brought home to me when co-workers send long emails on Sunday afternoons with requests for information when I’ve specifically said that Sundays are mine. In these parts, due to rush hour issues, road construction that requires complete highway closures is done on the weekends. Stores have sales that extend through the weekends. Leisure venues are open all weekend long, although patronizing such places on the Lord’s day could well be part of a spiritual experience.

There are weekends when I can’t help but compare and contrast this to my Orthodox Jewish neighbors, of which my little ‘Burgh has many, who walk to Shul and Synagogue, do not conduct business on the Sabbath (and they make no bones about it) and spend the day visiting with friends and relatives. One neighbor even walked across the street once to get the score of the baseball game rather than turn on a radio (true story).

So, why is it okay for we Christians who share much of a common religious and ethical background and values with our Jewish brethren to conduct commerce on the Lord’s day? Or is it? It is true that Christ told his followers that following the law was for hypocrites if they were just following the law because that is what is done. But if it is done for love of God, that’s another story.

In the Christian Tradition in which I was raised, our priorities are taught as God, family, work – in that order. We are to put God before all else. There is not much evidence at this time that such priorities are being met on a large scale. The Lord’s Day, that which we are commanded to keep, has gone by the wayside. If we are ask for His help, would it not be appropriate to keep that command?

Just a thought.

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