Tuesday of Week 2 per annum
In the gospel today Pharisees criticise the disciples for plucking grain from the edge of the field. For them this was a transgression of the Law of Moses – plucking grain was deemed to be work and therefore was forbidden. We can find this attitude surprising; not least, because, if we are honest, our own keeping of the Sabbath is a million miles from those Pharisees.
Some people wrongly interpret Our Lord’s teaching on the Sabbath. They wrongly think that basically the Sabbath is something we can forget about, all we need to do is go to mass (if we are not sick, or caring for the sick etc.). So perhaps it would be good to remind ourselves how we should be keeping the Sabbath as followers of Jesus Christ:
In the third commandment of the Decalogue (Ten Commandmants) we are told to keep the Sabbath day holy – it is for the Lord, and it is a day not to do any work. It is firstly then a day of protest against the servitude of work! Work was something that came to us from the Fall of Adam. In Eden, which was God’s original intention there was no labouring, everything we needed was provided. So first of all by keeping a Sabbath day of rest, God is pointing us towards His original intentions for humankind – pointing us to heaven.
Secondly we are reminded also that Sabbath rest was given to God’s people after they had been delivered from slavery – the Law of Moses was given after the Israelites had left Egypt in order they could worship God and live the way He wanted them to. So God is saying to us, through this commandment, “You are not slaves.” This is something I particularly think is important for us today in our frenetic world. Everything is busy, everything is rush, we can easily be enslaved to this – God is saying to us, “That is not what I made you for! Rest in me.”
Thirdly, the day is a day that is consecrated to God - a holy day. It can be useful to think of it as a day that doesn’t belong to us! It is the Lord ’s Day. It is even more so for us Christians because it is the Day of Resurrection – the Day of the New Creation in Christ. By the waters of Baptism we were reborn in Christ’s death and resurrection and therefore it is a truly holy day. In our religious calendar it is a day that trumps all days. It is never a day of penitence or fasting, it is always a day of joy and recreation.
The Church calls us all to keep the Lord’s day holy – to gather with our brothers and sisters in joy to celebrate: (1) we are not slaves, (2) we are children of God called to eternal bliss, and (3) give the day to the Lord in honour of His Resurrection, who gives it back to us for respite, for prayer, for worship, for time with our family and friends, and to be renewed in our Faith. So let us make it a distinctive day and truly give it to the Lord.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour, and do all your work; 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; 11 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20 (RSVCE))
P.S. We can usefully consider how this could be a useful witness to others.