Summer is traditionally the time to take some time off, get away from the day-to-day work life and re-energize.
But do we?
Writing on the Archdiocese of Washington’s blog, Msgr. Charles Pope addresses the issue of vacations for American workers — more likely the lack thereof in comparison to the rest of the world — and offers a reflection on God’s call to rest, as expressed in Scripture.
The article contrasts the work ethic of Americans, who take far less vacation time on average than their peers in some of the world’s leading economies, with the belief widely held throughout Europe that family life and the time to rest is as important as hard work.
What does God have to say about rest? Msgr. Pope cites several passages from the Old Testament in which God calls for six days of work and rest on the seventh. He writes:
Does it sound like the Lord is repeating himself? He is. But sometimes (most times) we’re slow to hear. He has written sleep into our physical nature and rest into our work week. The Lord also prescribed a series of feasts or holy days (holiday is just a mispronunciation of holy day), and here the people were to cease, pray and celebrate.
We Americans are miserable at this. We are hard workers, and that is good, but what good is it to work hard and never be able to enjoy the fruit of our work? Do we work to live, or live to work? Of all the commandments, you’d think we’d get this one right. God commands and prescribes a certain amount of rest and yet we seem to prefer the status of bond servants. How strange.
This coming Monday is Memorial Day, the traditional start of summer. Msgr. Pope’s commentary perhaps is the refreshing summer breeze we need.