Easter Daily Gospel Reflection - 22 April 2013
On a certain Sabbath Jesus was walking through a field of ripe grain. His disciples were pulling off heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands to get rid of the chaff, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing that, breaking a Sabbath rule?”
But Jesus stood up for them. “Have you never read what David and those with him did when they were hungry? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat? He also handed it out to his companions.”
Then he said, “The Son of Man is no slave to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.”
On another Sabbath he went to the meeting place and taught. There was a man there with a crippled right hand. The religion scholars and Pharisees had their eye on Jesus to see if he would heal the man, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction. He knew what they were up to and spoke to the man with the crippled hand: “Get up and stand here before us.” He did.
Then Jesus addressed them, “Let me ask you something: What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?”
He looked around, looked each one in the eye. He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out—it was as good as new! They were beside themselves with anger, and started plotting how they might get even with him.
A buddy and I were at a local pub having a drink and fixing all the worlds ills. Throughout the night, our conversation got into some pretty deep things. I noticed a young man in the opposite booth edging his way closer and closer to us. At one point, he interrupted our conversation stating that he didn’t agree with what we were saying. We went back and forth for a little bit and then he said, “You guys sure don’t act like Christians!”
“What do you mean?” I asked him.
“Here you are, drinking and smoking your pipes. And yet, I can sense the love of Christ in you. It’s just that you’re so different than what I was told Christians are supposed to be like. It makes me very hopeful.”
Too often, religious people set up rules about how a “real” follower of Jesus is supposed to act. People shouldn’t drink or swear or smoke or eat meat or go to the movies or dance or listen to rock music or watch movies or play bingo or get tattoos or wear certain clothes, etc., ad nauseam. Whatever it is or can be, I’m pretty certain some religious tradition has a rule about it. Why, just the other day, my wife and I saw a sign about worshipping on Saturday, the “real” sabbath day.
But what we have failed to realize is that Jesus is beyond all of those rules and laws. He’s “in charge,” not them. Like St. Paul wrote in Romans 14:
Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.
For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.
Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.
Notice that last sentence and really let it sink in, “Each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.” Why? How can Paul make such a statement? Because of Jesus. Jesus changed everything. Our religious practices are based on our own “convictions of conscience” and not dictated by some religious system.
This is what Jesus meant when he said he in charge of the Sabbath. He is the Sovereign of all creation. All of the religious tradition in Judaism pointed, not to itself, but to the Messiah; to Jesus himself.
This is further shown by Jesus healing the man in the synagogue. The keepers of the religious tradition, the Religious Elite, don’t like it when their traditions are challenged. And this happens even today.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Jesus has come. The Realm of G_d has been established and continues to grow and bring release to the captives, gives sight to the blind, heal the sick, feed the hungry, bringing reconciliation to the entire cosmos.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.