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. Oct 2021 .
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Doctrines & Morals

He is the Lord of the Sabbath

Ex. 11:10-12:14, Mt. 12:1-8. There are many ways of responding to God’s will. Today's first reading provides a careful set of rules for the celebration of Passover, a feast to keep alive the memory of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and the protection of its first-born. After they settled in Canaan, the feast took on agricultural elements, praying for freedom from drought and famine and for an abundant barley harvest. Passover is the celebration of life, both as a symbol of being saved from oppression and as the Lord’s gift of the fertile earth. Also, in its celebration, blood had an important role; it was rubbed on the forehead of each worshipper and splashed on the doors of their homes. This blood symbolised the bond of life uniting the people with each other and with their God. They point to the festive origins of the liturgy, as the people’s joyful celebration. This is the background to why Jesus did not share the Pharisees’ prohibition of Him “working” on the Sabbath. Anything that sustains and affirms life is exactly in tune with the purpose of the Sabbath.

In their argument with Jesus, the Pharisees emphasised what was forbidden on the Sabbath than its purpose, which was to be liberating and life-enhancing. When His hungry disciples walked through the fields on a sabbath day, they began to pluck heads of grain and eat them. This was not stealing, as the grains were standing unfenced and farmers were encouraged to leave some grains on the edge for the poor (Lev. 19:9); but as it seemed to violate the traditional rules for keeping the Sabbath, some Pharisees blamed Jesus about it. Jesus countered the objectors on their own grounds by citing a biblical episode about king David and pointing out that priests on Temple duty could do what was usually forbidden. Jesus could not endorse the strict Sabbath interpretation of the Pharisees. For if God “wants mercy, not sacrifice”, then the Sabbath day is better celebrated by affirming life than by fencing people in. Indeed the function of the Sabbath is to celebrate life. Like David or the priests, the people are more important than the Temple itself, so the disciples could act as they did with a clear conscience. Since Jesus interpreted the Sabbath regulations so freely, He is “Lord of the Sabbath.”

May the Lord give us His Spirit and help those in pain to know that the Father cares for them! Amen!! Good morning and a wonderful day!!!

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