DAILY GOSPEL COMMENTARY: THE SON OF MAN IS LORD OF THE SABBATH (Lk 6:1-5).
DAILY GOSPEL COMMENTARY:
THE SON OF MAN IS LORD OF THE SABBATH (Lk 6:1-5).
GOSPEL OF SATURDAY, 22ND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
THE LORD OF THE SABBATH
While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you not read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry? How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of Luke (with permission).
- 1-5 Accused by the Pharisees of breaking the sabbath, Jesus explains the correct way of understanding the sabbath rest, using an example from the Old Testament. And, by stating that he is “Lord of the sabbath” he is openly revealing that he is God himself, for it was God who gave this precept to the people of Israel. For more on this, cf. notes on Mt 12:2 and 12:3-8.
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission).
The question of the sabbath
- 12:2 “The sabbath”: this was the day the Jews set aside for worshipping God. God himself, the originator of the sabbath (Gen 2:3), ordered the Jewish people to avoid certain kinds of work on this day (Ex 20:8-11; 21:13; Deut 5:14), to leave them free to give more time to God.
- As time went by, the rabbis complicated this divine precept: by Jesus’ time they had extended to 39 the list of kinds of forbidden work.
- The Pharisees accuse Jesus’ disciples of breaking the sabbath. In the casuistry of the scribes and the Pharisees, plucking ears of corn was the same as harvesting, and crushing them was the same as milling — types of agricultural work forbidden on the sabbath.
- 12:3-8 Jesus rebuts the Pharisees’ accusation by four arguments — the example of David, that of the priests, a correct understanding of the mercy of God and Jesus’ own authority over the sabbath.
- The first example, which was quite familiar to the people, who were used to listening to the Bible being read, comes from 1 Sam 21:2-7: David, in flight from the jealousy of King Saul, asks the priest of the shrine at Nob for food for his men; the priest gave them the only bread he had, the holy bread of the Presence: this was the twelve loaves which were placed each week on the golden altar of the sanctuary, as a perpetual offering from the twelve tribes of Israel (Lev 24:5-9).
- The second example refers to the priestly ministry: to perform the liturgy priests had to do a number of things on the sabbath, but did not thereby break the law of sabbath rest (cf. Num 28:9).
- On the two other arguments, cf. notes on Mt 9:13 and Mk 2:26-27, 28.
- Mt 9:13:
- Here Jesus quotes Hos 6:6, keeping the hyperbole of the Semitic style. A more faithful translation would be “I desire mercy more than sacrifice”. It is not that our Lord does not want the sacrifices we offer him: he is stressing that every sacrifice should come from the heart, for charity should imbue everything a Christian does — especially his worship of God (see 1 Cor 13:1-13; Mt 5:23-24).
- Mk 2:26-27, 28:
- Finally in this passage Christ teaches God’s purpose in instituting the sabbath: God established it for man’s good, to help him rest and devote himself to divine worship in joy and peace.
- The Pharisees, through their interpretation of the Law, had turned this day into a source of anguish and scruple due to all the various prescriptions and prohibitions they introduced.
- By proclaiming himself ‘lord of the sabbath’, Jesus affirms his divinity and his universal authority. Because he is lord he has the power to establish other laws, as Yahweh had in the Old Testament.
- “Son of man”: the origin of the messianic meaning of this expression is to be found particularly in the prophecy in Dan 7:13ff, where Daniel, in a prophetic vision, contemplates ‘one like a son of man’ coming down on the clouds of heaven, who even goes right up to God’s throne and is given dominion and glory and royal power over all peoples and nations. This expression appears 69 times in the Synoptic Gospels;
- Jesus prefers it to other ways of describing the Messiah — such as Son of David, Messiah, etc. — thereby avoiding the nationalistic overtones those expressions had in Jewish minds at the time (cf. “Introduction” to the Gospel according to St Mark, pp. 63f above).
- Mt 9:13:
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S 1ST READING (YEAR I)
TOPIC: DO YOU FIGHT FOR WHAT IS RIGHT OR DO YOU RIGHT YOUR HEART THAT FIGHTS?
In today’s short first reading, Paul appeals to the Colossians to keep following Jesus, who has reconciled them to Him through His death. As we all know, the first Christians were composed of Jews and Gentiles, or pagans, who came to unity by His death on the cross.
We reflect today on our relationships. Peace in our hearts starts with our recognition that Jesus came to change our mindset from looking at things solely from a human perspective to a spiritual one where God’s commandment of love must dominate our existence.
For true faith can only thrive in an atmosphere of love. And peace and joy will only flourish when love is given without expecting anything in return.
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