ONE SABBATH Jesus was passing through a wheat field, and His hungry disciples began plucking a few grains from the stands of wheat, nibbling as they walked. At once some Pharisees ran up to ask Jesus why they were breaking the Pharisaic law against harvesting on the Sabbath. And Jesus replied:
“Have you not read what David did when he and those with him were hungry? How he entered the house of God and ate the loaves of proposition which neither he nor those with him could lawfully eat, but only the priests? Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath days the priests in their temple break the Sabbath and are guiltless? But I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. But if you knew what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would never have condemned the innocent. The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
On another Sabbath, when Jesus came to the synagogue there was a man present who had a withered hand. The sectarians had noted this circumstance and were watching Jesus to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to the man:
“Stand forth into the midst.”
Then, turning to the Pharisees, He said:
“Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil? to save a life, or to destroy it?”
They did not answer, and He added:
“What man is there among you who, if he has a single sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? How much better is a man than a sheep! Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
He looked at them thoughtfully for a moment, in anger and in sorrow. Then He said to the afflicted man:
“Stretch forth thy hand.”
The hand was immediately healed. But the Pharisees went out and plotted with the Herodians to kill Christ.
Meditation: The Pharisees watched Our Lord and His disciples to try to catch them in some violation of the Law. Their purpose was to discredit and to injure Him. But they veiled their attempt behind a feigned zeal for exact observance of God’s Law. This was hypocrisy. They pretended to be serving God; in reality they were trying to trap the Son of God. How often do I pretend to have lofty motives for my harsh and severe strictures of others?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 45-46. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.