2ND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
1st Reading: Heb 6:10-20
Brothers and sisters: God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises. When God made the promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, and said, I will indeed bless you and multiply you. And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise. Now, men swear by someone greater than themselves; for them an oath serves as a guarantee and puts an end to all argument. So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Gospel: Mk 2:23-28
As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
…the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath: The disciples of Jesus did not go against the law, when they harvested and ate grain as the walked by a corn field. Their action was covered by the Law (Deut 23:25). The only problem was that they did that on Sabbath. If plucking of grains was seen as “reaping” then that amounted to working on the Sabbath; a violation of the day of rest (Gen 2:2-3; Ex 34:21). Jesus had to rise in defense of his disciples by citing the action of David and his companions when they were hungry. Jesus was a faithful Jew and so were his disciples. More so, he is the Son of God, the Creator of the universe who rested on the Sabbath and is honoured by the Sabbath rest. Beyond the question of keeping or not keep the Sabbath, the question was more of “how to observe the Sabbath.” God is honoured when we do God, save human lives and do good works of charity.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you teach us every day, help us to follow your example. Amen.
THE SPIRIT BEHIND THE LAW: Often times, we fall culprits of the law and at times innocently. Laws implemented without understanding the motive, easily become burdensome. When David was in need, he went against the law. When life is in danger, the law can be overlooked. Laws are made to serve the good of society, so, when they become minor invisible and invincible prisons, they make us lose life meaning. Christ comes to correct our wrongful interpretation of traditions and laws. As the Lord of the Sabbath, he is the principal interpretor of human affairs. He therefore, reminds us that human needs are more important than ritual requirements, even on a Sabbath. Jesus challenges his critics to choose between human needs and religious reputation. He does not defend the breaking of the Sabbath, as such, he simply suggests that there is a more important principle at stake, human need.
Prayer: O Lord, help us to discern what is good for human development and not focus on mere observance of law.
USER FRIENDLY LAWS: In the understanding of Jesus, human need is more important than the written law. Since the law came from God originally, Jesus tells the Pharisees they had not interpreted them properly. They might be literal and superficial. In reference to King David, Jesus shows the older interpretation was right one. That is why Jesus said the Sabbath was made for the good of man and man not for the Sabbath. For Jesus, the real priority is not to be slave to the law but to use the law, in the best way possible, to benefit human needs. In other words, human life has to be the measure of everything but not the law. In the same way one can say that religion is for man and not man for religion. If our religion does not enable us to do good to people, it is useless. If the laws and observances do not help a man, then it is meaningless to observe them, better keep them aside.
ALL IN THE NAME OF GOD: Among the numerous applications of the Jewish law was reaping, winnowing, threshing and preparing a meal. This act multiplied the laws until an average believer got suffocated. As noted in today’s readings the disciples have broken the law. The Jewish Rabbis view this as a matter of deadly sin. However, a look at nature, questions human wisdom. We see colonies of ants briskly gathering their food on even the hottest of days. They are an inspired army putting aside treasure for the rainy days, when food gathering is impossible. Food is topmost to any form of life. Faced with such a basic need, Jesus responds to this human need by cutting across the scribal rules and regulations. For him human need takes precedence over an offering to God placed at the Holy of Holies. At a time when millions go hungry in our society, what excuses do we give not to reach out to them?