Lord Even of Sabbath Rest

Withdrawing to pray is tied to our being, our existence.

The sayings of our mouth and the meditation of our heart.

Ps 19:14 – Let the sayings of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, Be for a pleasing thing before Thee, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer! (YLT)

What do the sayings of your mouth and the meditation of your heart reveal about who you think you are? Are they in agreement with the words of the Lord God and the meditation of his heart?

Meditating and resting.

Do you have a regular practice of meditating on God’s Word and resting in his promises? This is a vital part of the sanctification process, a separation and surrendering to the will of God for you.

Sanctification.

Sanctification is not an attainment, it is the state into which God, in grace, calls sinful people, and in which they begin their course as Christians, followers of Christ. It is a separation to God; it is the relationship with God to which their sole title is the death of Christ. Sanctification is God’s will, his purpose in calling sinful people by the gospel, and must be learned from God as he teaches it by his Word. It must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, for the holy character is built up little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and following the example of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Agent in sanctification. The sanctification of the Spirit is associated with the choice of God; it is a Divine act preceding the acceptance of the Gospel by the individual.1

Lectio Divina.

I encourage you to practice Lectio Divina – taking in just a small bite of Scripture each day, and chewing on it all day, all week, all month, all year, all life long, giving Holy Spirit time and access to the deep recesses of your heart to cleanse and nourish your soul as you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Pet 3:18).

“Lectio Divina”, a Latin term, means “divine reading” and describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. …the stages…

lectio (reading)… meditatio (reflection)… oratio (response)… contemplatio (rest), where we… simply rest in the Word of God. We listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within… The movement of the prayer is towards silence… The practice of Lectio Divina as a way of praying the Scriptures has been a fruitful source of growing in relationship with Christ for many centuries and in our own day is being rediscovered by many individuals and groups. The Word of God is alive and active and will transform each of us if we open ourselves to receive what God wants to give us.2

Lectio.

Reading. Read the Word of God slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into you.

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

Meditatio.

Reflection. Think about the text and ruminate upon it so that you take from it what God wants to give you.

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

What word or phrase stirs you? Take some time to murmur and mumble the word/s, taking a kind of pleasure in making the sounds and getting the feel of the meaning. Take in what God wants to give you that will make you more yourself, created in his image and likeness.3

Sabbath was made for mankind.

Mark 2:27-3:5 – Then he [Jesus] said to them, “Shabbat [Sabbath] was made for mankind, not mankind for Shabbat; So the Son of Man is Lord even of Shabbat.” Yeshua went again into a synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse him of something, people watched him carefully to see if he would heal him on Shabbat. He said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Come up where we can see you!” Then to them he said, “What is permitted on Shabbat? Doing good or doing evil? Saving life or killing?” But they said nothing. Then, looking them over and feeling both anger with them and sympathy for them at the stoniness of their hearts, he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” As he held it out, it became restored. (CJB)

Sabbath rest was made for mankind.
So the Son of Man [Jesus] is Lord even of Sabbath rest.
Lord: supreme in authority, controller.4
Lord of creation. Lord of Sabbath.
Doing good.
Healing.
Saving life.

Sabbath was made for mankind. To bless. To benefit. To make whole. To do good. To save life. Cease. Rest. Restore.

Oh, that we would consent to letting our Lord, supreme in authority, heal our hardened, untrusting, wayward hearts!

Meditation is not merely the intellectual effort to master certain ideas about God or even to impress upon our minds the mysteries of our Catholic faith. Conceptual knowledge of religious truth has a definite place in our life, and that place is an important one. Study plays an essential part in the life of prayer. The spiritual life needs strong intellectual foundations. The study of theology is a necessary accompaniment to a life of meditation. But meditation itself is not “study” and is not a purely intellectual activity. The purpose of meditation is not merely to acquire or to deepen objective and speculative knowledge of God and the truth revealed by him.

In meditation we do not seek to know about God as though he were an object like other objects which submit to our scrutiny and can be expressed in clear scientific ideas. We seek to know God himself, beyond the level of all the objects which he has made and which confront us as “things” isolated from one another, “defined,” “delimited,” with clear boundaries.5

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

Jesus and Sabbath rest.

Luke 5:16 – But he [Jesus] would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (ESV)

Withdraw: comprised of two words; eimi-the first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb: I exist: am, have been, it is I, was. Second, hupochoreo-to vacate down, retire quietly; go aside, withdrawself.6

Letting go our natural self, forsaking our own interests, taking our eyes off externals, we retire quietly to discover our true being.

He continued in prayer.

Luke 6:12 – In these days he [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. (ESV)

Continued: imperfect of I, thou, was, were; agree, be, have charge of, hold, use.7

All night: to sit up the whole night; continue all night.8

It seems that withdrawing to pray and continual prayer is somehow tied to our being, to discovering who we really are in the image and likeness of God. Try as we might to make ourselves like God, we can’t do it. But withdrawing from the things and concerns of this world to pray and continue in prayer is the path that Jesus modeled for us.

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

The Sabbath of contemplation.

He [Peter of Celles, Benedictine of the twelfth century] loves to describe the “sabbath” of contemplation, in which the soul rests in God and God works in the soul; the quiet and transcendent activity, the quies sine rubigine, in which purity of heart rewards the contemplative for the labor of asceticism. This labor is “active life” in another and older sense: the life of discipline, penance, mortification, which is absolutely necessary. Without virtue there can be no real and lasting contemplation. Without the labor of discipline there can be no rest in love.

But when asceticism has purified and liberated the inner man then, Peter says:

God works in us while we rest in him. Beyond all grasping is this work of the Creator, itself creative, this rest. For such work exceeds all rest, in its tranquility. This rest, in its effect, shines forth as more productive than any work. Therefore let this action or rest of our contemplation be fashioned so as to reproduce, even though only in faint for sketchy lines, one model (of work and rest which is in God) ….These things are not done in shadow or in night, but in the day, in the light, in the sun of justice; for he who snores in the night of vice cannot know the light of contemplation.9

Contemplation is work; it is continued re-connecting.

Contemplation is an entirely different way of knowing reality that has the power to move us beyond mere ideology and dualistic thinking. Mature religion will always lead us to some form of prayer, meditation, or contemplation to balance out our usual calculating mind. Believe me, it is major surgery, and we must practice it for years to begin to rewire our egocentric responses. Contemplation is work, so much so that most people give up after their first futile attempts. But the goal of contemplation is not success, only the continuing practice itself. The only people who pray well are those who keep praying! In fact, continued re-connecting is what I mean by prayer, not occasional consolations that we may experience.

The capacity for nondual knowing that is developed through contemplation allows us to be happy, rooted in God, comfortable with paradox and mystery, and largely immune to mass consciousness and its false promises. This is true wisdom knowing, and it is the job of elders to pass it on to the next generation so we need not start at zero.

Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form—without filters, judgments, or commentaries. The ego doesn’t trust this way of seeing, which is why it is so rare, “a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14, New Jerusalem Bible). The only way we can contemplate is by recognizing and relativizing our own compulsive mental grids—our practiced ways of judging, critiquing, blocking, filtering, and computing everything. But we first have to catch ourselves in the act and recognize how habitual our egoic, dualistic thinking is. Each person must do this homework for themselves. It cannot be achieved by reading someone else’s conclusions.

When our judgmental mind and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to us, because our pettiness and self-protective filters are at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed on its own—quite simply—and we will experience a rebirth of the soul.10

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

Find a quiet, secluded place to contemplate.

Matt 6:5-8 – “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. (MSG)

Find a quiet, secluded place.
Be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.
The focus will shift from you to God.
You will begin to sense his grace.
Your Father.
He knows better than you what you need.

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

Finding our real being and identity in Christ.

…the aim of meditation…is…to come to know him through the realization that our very being is penetrated with his knowledge and love for us. Our knowledge of God is paradoxically a knowledge not of him as the object of our scrutiny, but of ourselves as utterly dependent on his saving and merciful knowledge of us. It is in proportion as we are known to him that we find our real being and identity in Christ. We know him in and through ourselves in so far as his truth is the source of our being and his merciful love is the very heart of our life and existence. We have no other reason for being, except to be loved by him as our Creator and Redeemer, and to love him in return. There is no true knowledge of God that does not imply a profound grasp and an intimate personal acceptance of this profound relationship.

The whole purpose of meditation is to deepen the consciousness of this basic relationship of the creature to the Creator, and of the sinner to his Redeemer.11

Ps 62:1 – For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. (ESV)

Ex 31:15 – Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. (ESV)

By meditation I penetrate the inmost ground of my life, seek the full understanding of God’s will for me, of God’s mercy to me, of my absolute dependence upon him. But this penetration must be authentic. It must be something genuinely lived by me. This in turn depends on the authenticity of my whole concept of my life, and of my purposes. But my life and aims tend to be artificial, inauthentic, as long as I am simply trying to adjust my actions to certain external norms of conduct that will enable me to play an approved part in the society in which I live. After all, this amounts to little more than learning a role. Sometimes methods and programs of meditation are aimed simply at this: learning to play a religious role. The idea of the “imitation” of Christ and of the saints can degenerate into mere impersonation, if it remains only exterior.12

Oratio.

Response. Leave your thinking aside and simply let your heart speak to God. This response is inspired by your reflection on the Word of God.

Prayer means yearning for the simple presence of God, for a personal understanding of his word, for knowledge of his will and for capacity to hear and obey him. It is thus something much more than uttering petitions for good things external to our own deepest concerns…

We wish to gain a true evaluation of ourselves and of the world so as to understand the meaning of our life as children of God redeemed from sin and death. We wish to gain a true loving knowledge of God, our Father and Redeemer. We wish to lose ourselves in his love and rest in him. We wish to hear his word and respond to it with our whole being. We wish to know his merciful will and submit to it in its totality. These are the aims and goals of meditation and oratio.13

 

But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. (Job 32:8 ESV)

Contemplation is meeting as much reality as we can handle in its most simple and immediate form—without filters, judgments, or commentaries. The ego doesn’t trust this way of seeing, which is why it is so rare, “a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14, New Jerusalem Bible). The only way we can contemplate is by recognizing and relativizing our own compulsive mental grids—our practiced ways of judging, critiquing, blocking, filtering, and computing everything… When our judgmental mind and all its commentaries are placed aside, God finally has a chance to get through to us, because our pettiness and self-protective filters are at last out of the way. Then Truth stands revealed on its own—quite simply—and we will experience a rebirth of the soul.14

Contemplatio.

Rest. Let go of your own ideas, plans and meditations, your holy words and thoughts. Simply rest in the Word of God. Listen at the deepest level of your being to God who speaks within you with a still small voice. As you listen, you are gradually transformed from within. Take what you read in the Word of God into your daily life. The way you live is the test of the authenticity of your prayer.

Ps 27:4 – I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet. (MSG)

…the “sabbath” of contemplation, in which the soul rests in God and God works in the soul; the quiet and transcendent activity, …in which purity of heart rewards the contemplative for the labor of asceticism. This labor is “active life” in another and older sense: the life of discipline, penance, mortification, which is absolutely necessary. Without virtue there can be no real and lasting contemplation. Without the labor of discipline there can be no rest in love. But when asceticism has purified and liberated the inner man then…God works in us while we rest in him.15

*****

Resources/For deeper study:

1Sanctification: A. Noun. hagiasmos (<START GREEK>a)giasmo/$ <END GREEK>, NT:38), “sanctification,” is used of (a) separation to God, 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; (b) the course of life befitting those so separated, 1 Thess 4:3,4,7; Rom 6:19,22; 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14. “Sanctification is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ, Acts 26:18; 1 Cor 6:11, and to which their sole title is the death of Christ, Eph 5:25,26; Col 1:22; Heb 10:10,29; 13:12.

“Sanctification is also used in NT of the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer, 1 Thess 4:3, and His purpose in calling him by the gospel, v. 7; it must be learned from God, v. 4, as He teaches it by His Word, John 17:17,19, cf. Ps 17:4; 119:9, and it must be pursued by the believer, earnestly and undeviatingly, 1 Tim 2:15; Heb 12:14. For the holy character, hagiosune, 1 Thess 3:13, is not vicarious, i. e., it cannot be transferred or imputed, it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and of following the example of Christ, Matt 11:29; John 13:15; Eph 4:20; Phil 2:5, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Rom 8:13; Eph 3:16.

“The Holy Spirit is the Agent in sanctification, Rom 15:16; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; cf. 1 Cor 6:11…. The sanctification of the Spirit is associated with the choice, or election, of God; it is a Divine act preceding the acceptance of the Gospel by the individual.”

From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 115, 271.

For synonymous words see HOLINESS.

  1. Verb. hagiazo (<START GREEK>a(gia/zw <END GREEK>, NT:37), “to sanctify,” “is used of (a) the gold adorning the Temple and of the gift laid on the altar, Matt 23:17,19; (b) food, 1 Tim 4:5; (c) the unbelieving spouse of a believer, 1 Cor 7:14; (d) the ceremonial cleansing of the Israelites, Heb 9:13; (e) the Father’s Name, Luke 11:2; (f) the consecration of the Son by the Father, John 10:36; (g) the Lord Jesus devoting Himself to the redemption of His people, John 17:19; (h) the setting apart of the believer for God, Acts 20:32; cf. Rom 15:16; (i) the effect on the believer of the Death of Christ, Heb 10:10, said of God, and 2:11; 13:12, said of the Lord Jesus; (j) the separation of the believer from the world in his behavior — by the Father through the Word, John 17:17,19; (k) the believer who turns away from such things as dishonor God and His gospel, 2 Tim 2:21; (l) the acknowledgment of the Lordship of Christ, 1 Peter 3:15.

“Since every believer is sanctified in Christ Jesus, 1 Cor 1:2, cf. Heb 10:10, a common NT designation of all believers is ‘saints,’ hagioi, i. e., ‘sanctified’ or ‘holy ones.’ Thus sainthood, or sanctification, is not an attainment, it is the state into which God, in grace, calls sinful men, and in which they begin their course as Christians, Col 3:12; Heb 3:1.”

From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 113, 114.

(from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

2https://www.ocarm.org/en/carmelites/what-lectio-divina

3“Meditate (hagah) is a bodily action; it involves murmuring and mumbling words, taking a kind of physical pleasure in making the sounds of the words, getting the feel of the meaning as the syllables are shaped by larynx and tongue and lips. Isaiah used this word “meditate” for the sounds that a lion makes over its prey (Isa 31:4). They purr and growl in pleasurable anticipation of taking in what will make them more themselves, strong, lithe, swift.” From: Peterson, Eugene H. (1991). Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer (pg 26). New York, NY: HarperCollins.

4Lord: NT:2962 <START GREEK>ku/rio$<END GREEK> kurios (koo’-ree-os); from kuros (supremacy); supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller; by implication, Mr. (as a respectful title): KJV – God, Lord, master, Sir. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

5Thomas Merton (2014). Contemplative Prayer (pg 57). New York, NY: Image Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

6Withdraw: NT:1510 <START GREEK>ei)mi/<END GREEK> eimi (i-mee’); the first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist (used only when emphatic): KJV – am, have been,  it is I, was. See also NT:1488, NT:1498, NT:1511, NT:2258, NT:2071, NT:2070, NT:2075, NT:2076, NT:2468, NT:5600, NT:5607.

NT:5298 <START GREEK>u(poxwre/w<END GREEK> hupochoreo (hoop-okh-o-reh’-o); from NT:5259 and NT:5562; to vacate down, i.e. retire quietly: KJV – go aside, withdrawself. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

7Continued: NT:2258 <START GREEK>h@n<END GREEK> en (ane); imperfect of NT:1510; I (thou, etc.) was (wast or were): KJV –  agree, be,  have (+charge of), hold, use, was (-t), were. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

8All night: NT:1273 <START GREEK>dianuktereu/w <END GREEK> dianuktereuo (dee-an-ook-ter-yoo’-o); from NT:1223 and a derivative of NT:3571; to sit up the whole night: KJV – continue all night. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006, 2010 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

9Thomas Merton (2014). Contemplative Prayer (pg 37-38). New York, NY: Image Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

10Meditations@CAC.org, Ways of Knowing; Doing the Homework; Sunday, October 13, 2019 (Richard Rohr daily meditation)

11Thomas Merton (2014). Contemplative Prayer (pg 61-62). New York, NY: Image Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

12Thomas Merton (2014). Contemplative Prayer (pg 47). New York, NY: Image Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

13Thomas Merton (2014). Contemplative Prayer (pg 45-46). New York, NY: Image Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

14Meditations@CAC.org, Ways of Knowing; Doing the Homework; Sunday, October 13, 2019 (Richard Rohr daily meditation)

15Thomas Merton (2014). Contemplative Prayer (pg 37-38). New York, NY: Image Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

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