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Doctrines & Morals

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath

Ish 38:1-6, 21-22, Mt. 11:1-8. The Pharisees in today's Gospel cared more about legal regulations than on the basic purpose and meaning of religion. This made them suspicious of Jesus and led them to many verbal clashes with Him. As He walked through the fields with His disciples on a Sabbath day, they began to pluck the heads of corn and eat them. This was not stealing, since the corn was standing free and unfenced and farmers were encouraged to leave some portion for the poor at the edge of each field (Lev. 19:9). However, in the eyes of strict observers it violated the prohibition of all work on the Sabbath and so they complained about it.

Jesus did not reject the traditional practices that had developed, insofar as they fostered a good quality of life. However, He countered the objectors on their own grounds by citing Biblical passages about David and referring to the work of priests on Temple duty. The Scriptures, He says, do not endorse the strict interpretation made by the Pharisees. For if God “wants mercy, not sacrifice,” then the Sabbath is better celebrated by affirming life than by ritual; indeed, life gives ritual its true meaning. The people in the temple, like David or the priests, are more important than the Temple itself, so the disciples could act as they did for the sake of life. Since Jesus interpreted the Sabbath regulations so freely, then the later Church concluded that he was “Lord of the Sabbath.” In today's first reading, Isaiah also promotes authentic living. At his request, God heals Hezekiah, who had been expected to die and by turning back the shadow of the sun proves that Hezekiah will again go to the Temple for prayer. Whether we live or die, are in the bloom of health or suffer from some illness, God wants life to be celebrated and eventually to grant us eternal life in the Heavenly Sabbath.

May the Lord lead and guide us as pilgrim through this life toward the place which God has prepared for us in Heaven! Amen!! Remain safe and have a joyful day!!!

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