In today’s Gospel, Jesus again turns the attempts of the scholars and Pharisees to discredit Him back against them. Interested in revealing Jesus as an unfaithful Jew who doesn’t follow the laws of the Sabbath, they invite him to dinner and observe Him closely. However, Jesus reveals a law far greater than any of the “prescriptions” of the Mosaic Law.
Jesus already knew that his hosts wanted to catch him in the act of breaking their Sabbath rituals. When a man affected by dropsy presents himself to the Lord at the dinner, Jesus first asks the scholars and the Pharisees if they consider it lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Their resulting silence shows the internal moral conflict they faced. Their own reputation was now at stake. They knew in their hearts that healing should never be limited. But their pride prevented them from admitting the error in their strict interpretation of the Mosaic Law. Jesus further reinforces his point by making it personal, challenging them to consider how they would act if the healing was needed by a son or an animal crucial to their survival.
Some may interpret today’s Gospel to mean that obeying the commandment to “Keep holy the Lord’s Day” is optional. That is not what Jesus is teaching us. The "Sabbath rest" is meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God's goodness and the goodness of his works, both in creation and redemption. It is a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It is intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. Observing the “Sabbath rest” is a useful commandment that brings us closer to God.
But Jesus was emphasizing a more important law. No “commandment” is greater than the commandment to love God and love your neighbor. The law of love supersedes the law of rest. Doing good and healing others is the ultimate way to praise our Lord for all He has given us. The Lord is counting on us to continue His works of love, mercy, and healing. Let us quickly put aside our own worries and priorities whenever we are given the opportunity to love our God by loving others.
Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection
Who is the one God has placed in your life that needs your love and mercy?