Today’s first reading is from Isaiah. The entire reading is about giving of ourselves and only then will we find help and delight in the Lord. There were two verses in particular that stood out to me:
“If you call the sabbath a delight, the Lord’s holy day glorious; if you glorify it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or pursuing you own affairs– then you shall delight in the Lord.” Isaiah 58:13-14
Selflessness is something we don’t talk about very much in our society. We honor those who do selfless acts of bravery, like firefighters who go into a burning building and die saving someone or police officers who risk their lives for other people, but in general our society encourages selfishness. It’s important for you to feel good, to have everything you want. If you ask someone what is means to be successful they usually say something like: It means you have a good job, have a lot of money, and a family. In our society, for some reason, we have come to believe that we can only be happy if we are surrounded by money and stuff. We think that it is more important to be the first in line for something on sale than it is to spend a day with family (black friday shopping anyone?).
Even when it comes to those of us who know better, who are trying to follow Christ, we still stumble and fall. The Lord asks us to keep the Sabbath holy. And we do that, right? But what does it really mean to keep the Sabbath holy. Usually I hear people talk about getting their rest and maybe going to Mass. Our Sabbaths are all about us. We do what we want on Sunday. We might go out to breakfast with family or spend the day on the couch watching t.v. But the question is, is that really what how the Lord is asking us to keep the Sabbath holy?
In the quote above from Isaiah the Lord is trying to tell us how He wants us to live on the Sabbath and always. He asks us not to seek our own interests or follow our own ways. In a round about way the Lord is asking us to be selfless. He’s telling us that it is more important to take care of others than it is to take care of ourselves. He is clearing up this false idea that we have that if we do enough stuff that we want then and only then will we be satisfied. The truth is we will not be satisfied until we become selfless. We will not be able to delight in the Lord until we follow His ways and not our own.
Normally, I wouldn’t have picked this reading to reflect on. I almost always gravitate toward the Gospel. And today there is a great one about the call of Levi, of which I could pull a great reflection on my vocation. But lately, selflessness has been on my heart. You see, my grandma has been in the hospital and struggling with recovering from a surgery. The last couple weeks have been crazy, filled with tons of time with family and with her. I’ve learned so much about hospitals and cancer and surgeries and everything to do with taking care of someone who is sick. I’ve also had my eyes opened to what it means to be selfless.
My grandma is the most selfless person I know. Throughout this entire process she has been more worried about all of us than about herself. She even went to the extent to not admit herself to the hospital or go to the doctor because she didn’t want to put anyone else out. Before she went into surgery, she was lecturing us about our eating habits, reminding us that we needed to eat lunch. Every step of the way she has been more worried about how we’re handling things and how things are going in our lives than about herself. She is showing me in her little ways what it really means to love selflessly. To care more about others than yourself.
I hope that one day I can be as selfless as my grandma. I hope that one day all of us are able to not follow our own ways, seek our own interests, or our own affairs, so that we can truly delight in the Lord.