At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests.
Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Golf, football games, family dinners, and yard-work would all be prohibited on the Sabbath according to Jewish law. It seems Jesus frequently ran afoul of the Sabbath regulations, healing withered hands, curing the crippled and now, snacking on grain. Is it really unreasonable for the Pharisees to challenge him on these violations of the law? This one comes from the Ten Commandments after all.
I think Jesus is teaching the Pharisees and reminding us about priorities. Is it good to obey the laws? Yes. Is it good to attend to someone who is “greater than the temple?” Yes. Which is better? I hear the Lord of the Sabbath warning me again about false idols and inordinate attachments. Nothing, not even the best of laws, should displace Christ as the center of my life.
—Jerry Skoch is a Spiritual Director and Vice President & Chief Mission Officer at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.
Help me to recognize your voice,
to see you in the people and daily miracles that surround me.
Amidst the daily swirl of tasks and commitments please stay as my center and core.
—Jerry SkochPlease share the Good Word with your friends!