Homily (Reflection) for Saturday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time (I) (09th September, 2017) on the Gospel
(B.V.M on Saturday Opt. Mem)
Ps 53:3-4.6.8. (R. v.6);
Topic: Fight over letters.
The book of Exodus commands, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex 20:8). And the book of Deuteronomy explains further,
...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, or your manservant, or your maidservant, or your ox, or your ass, or any of your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you (Deut 5:14; cf. Ex 20:10).
Sabbatical laws prohibit a lot of things. They include lightning a fire, (cf. Ex 35:3), carrying load (cf. Jer 17:21, 22; Jn 5:10), walking more than half a mile, (cf. Acts 1:12) and many more. And the penalty is death, cf. Ex 31:14, 15. 35:2.
However, Jesus’ disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate as He walked through the grainfields in today’s gospel on a Sabbath. The Pharisees questioned “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
In reply, Jesus took their minds back to when David and his men ate the bread of Presence which was lawful for priests alone. He also reminded them in another text that “on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless” (Matt 12:5; cf. Num 28:9). The people also circumcised on Sabbath, (cf. Jn 7:22); pulled their children and animals that fell into well on a Sabbath day, (cf. Lk 14:5; Matt 12:11); untied their animals from the manger and led them away to water them, (cf. Lk 13:15), and so on. Therefore they fought over letters.
Jesus queried in Mark chapter 3 verse 4, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” Similar questions abound, cf. Lk 6:9. 14:3. Why then should they be angry because He made a man’s body well on a Sabbath, (cf. Jn 7:23; Matt 12:12; Lk 13:16)?
Jesus came to complete the Law and the Prophets, cf. Matt 5:17. His mission is to save, cf. Jn 12:47; Lk 19:10; 1Tim 1:15. The Sabbath does not prohibit any from doing good; “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27). We must help our brothers and sisters in all circumstances.
Bible Reading: Jn 7:10-24.
Thought for today: No law forbids charity.
Let us pray: Lord, help us ever to work for our brothers and sisters – Amen.
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