14 January 2011 Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 4: 1-11; Psalm 78: Mark 2: 1-12
When we hear the word “rest” what comes to our mind? Perhaps a beautiful white sand beach or a favorite mountain retreat or on busy days a few hours off in a coffee shop. But the word “rest” in the letter to the Hebrews in the first reading is about something else. In ancient times, rest has been used to mean “resting” in God, being at home with God.
Unfortunately, resting in this sense is found to be difficult to do. Thomas Merton once wrote that as we progress, we have become very restless. The distractions of many advertisements have led us to pursue them only to discover that the promise of rest is as good as the hours you spent in the spa. Instead of giving us the peace of mind we long for, these various seductions left us more confused and non-committal. Rest does not last forever.
Thomas Merton’s words have become truer than ever: these distractions have lessen our capacity for peace. Take for example how we can’t stand silence. We do not want dead spots. In media, we say that we have to keep talking so that there is no “dead air” — 10 seconds of silence is a mortal sin if you’re a broadcaster.
Thus the letter to the Hebrews that says, “Let us be on guard while the promise of entering into His rest remains” is both a caution and a challenge. We are to be vigilant so as not to forget that our rest remains only in God. We are to watch out that we are not drawn into the seductions of many things around us that we become scatterbrains. We are to be very sure that when we operate in this world, we will not forget God’s promise to bring us to Him, to enter into His home.