REST IN THE LORD: A HOMILY ON SATURDAY, 4TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR II
Buhari once identified laziness as the problem of the Nigerian youth. This statement angered many Nigerians because how can we speak of laziness when there are no jobs in the first place. We often have people we call lazy and people we call hard-working. Yet others we call workaholics. But our biggest problem is none of the above. Our problem is activism. We are taught to be busy all the time, and people even derive a sense of importance from the fact that they are busy. The busier you are, the more evident it is that you are an important person. Yet, if we check the qualities of the things we are busy with, most of them are just empty rigmarole. We end up making efforts without making progress in life.
Our first reading of today invites us to offer a sacrifice of praise to God, to do good to others and to be obedient to our leaders, and to do all these joyfully. We are encouraged to do these things because we hardly have time. We hardly have time to praise God, and we hardly have time to do good to others. We hardly have time to listen to anyone, great or small, and funny enough, we hardly have time to be joyful. We are so serious with activism that instead of using time, time is using us.
This is why Jesus in the Gospel invites us to rest a while. Weekends give us a good opportunity to rest from our labors, but we also have the tendency of filling our weekends with all kinds of activities as well, and we end up working during the week and getting drunk on weekends and appearing at work on Monday morning with a hangover. Even if we do not have time during the week to praise God, the weekend is given to us as a ‘holy-day’, which is a day which is holy and dedicated to God. At least, keep your Sundays for God. Some people who manage to go to church end up complaining that the mass is too long. Sometimes, the mass could also be celebrated in such a way that people do not find rest in praising God. Jesus goes to a lonely place and He invites us to go with Him.
However, when the crowds followed Him, He had compassion on them. Com-Passion implies suffering with the person who is suffering. The weekend gives us an opportunity to visit that person who is having some difficulties, who is sick, etc, and actually listen, and suffer with him/her. We have the opportunity to actually sit at home and know what is happening in our own very houses. But sometimes, we are away during the week and away on weekends. Some people have long forgotten what their own children look like. Stay at home and rest, but rest in the Lord. Use that time to pray and worship God. Worshiping God should not be an experience that leaves us tired, but an experience that refreshes us. If worshiping God makes us tired, then we need to ask ourselves some questions. If worshiping God makes us tired, then we will experience heaven as hell. One of God’s greatest promise to Israel is that of entering His rest. If we do not find rest in God, then we will never find rest at all. One thing that increases our activism drastically is our phones. How many times do you look at your phone in a day? You will be surprised. If we cannot rest now, even after our death, we will not be able to rest. The world is full of bored people, yet we are all visiting one social network site, looking for what knows who. Let us find rest in praising God.