Tuesday, January 19, 2021
“Nag, nag, nag, that’s all they ever do.” Can’t you just see Jesus looking up to the Father in heaven, exasperated with the Pharisees for their seemingly endless questions and challenges? That would likely be our initial reaction if we took Jesus’ place in today’s Gospel. Today, they challenge Jesus about keeping the law of the Sabbath.
But Jesus’s exasperation would be rooted in the fact that the Pharisees still haven’ accepted the message, or even believed with their own eyes that Jesus truly was the Messiah. But Jesus doesn’t give up on them yet. Jesus first uses their knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures and uses the account of David eating the “bread of offering” in the temple to hopefully open their eyes and see that God was more concerned for caring for his chosen people than for judging their adherence to the Jewish Law.
But knowing that the Pharisees had already closed their minds and hearts to accepting his message, he states clearly and directly what the Father wills in relation to the Sabbath. The "Sabbath rest" was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God's goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. The disciples were enjoying their time with the Son of Man, feasting on the works and fruits of creation that God had provided. Yes, they were following the Law of the Sabbath by being with Jesus.
Then Jesus puts the finishing touches on his admonishment of the Pharisees. The Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath! The new experience of God, as the Son of Man, is the key to discover the will of God who is at the origin of the Law of the Old Testament. Jesus the Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath. Living with the people of Galilee for thirty years and feeling in his own person the oppression and the exclusion to which so many brothers and sisters were condemned in the name of the Law of God, Jesus perceives that this could not be the significance of that law. If God is Father, then he accepts all as sons and daughters. If God is Father, then we should be brothers and sisters to others. And this is what Jesus lived and preached, from the beginning to the end. The Law of the Sabbath must be at the service of life and of fraternity.
What is the message for us today? Like the Pharisees, we too think we know the way that people should live. But only when our thoughts, and our actions, are aligned with the way Jesus showed us in his life on earth, do we even begin to have the proper understanding.
Today’s Questions for Prayer and Reflection:
How do we approach Sunday, our “day of rest?” What do we do on Sunday to praise God for all He’s done on our behalf?