A reading from the gospel of Matthew 12:1-8
1 Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”
3 He said to the them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry,
4 how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat?
5 Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent?
6 I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
7 If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men.
8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”
Reflection: Lord of the Sabbath
The gospel presents to us how Jesus views laws and tradition with respect to present-day necessities. When confronted by His opponents with the issue of legality, He pointed out how King David and the priests themselves violated the same law but were considered innocent. He also stated that He is the Lord of the sabbath and that mercy is more important than sacrifice.
Every given law must serve the well-being of the people and not oppress them. The Laws of the Old Testament are not exceptions. Therefore, the commandment on keeping the Sabbath or the Lord’s Day holy should not be too restrictive as to bar people from doing necessary tasks on that day.
Yet we must never take the passage as an excuse to get around the third commandment or the other commandments for that matter and do things as we please. Just because there are exceptions to rules, we are not at liberty to abuse them. God knows whether He is our priority or not.
Let us always remember that Jesus is Lord of traditions and of history. Let us make Him the Lord of all aspects in our life. In everything that we think, do or say, may it be pleasing to Him. He is the reason why we go to church on any day, not just Sundays or Sabbath day. It does not please Him at all if we are too obsessed with church as physical structure and being active in its activities but forgetting the meaning of love. After all, we should worship the Holy Trinity every moment of our life and not just on a particular day.
We are the church and the Lord of the sabbath lives in us. If this truth does not manifest itself in our relationship with one another, forget about “keeping the Sabbath holy”.