Matthew 12: 1-8
In this chapter of Matthew’s gospel we see the growing opposition to Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees, the official teachers of the Law of Moses. These leaders confront Jesus, and as he pushes back, they will finally come to a decision about Jesus, and that is rejection. It is not only rejection in the sense that they would have nothing to do with him, but rather the conclusion that nothing less his death would silence him. Often we see the same pattern working out in oppressive countries of the world as those who speak out against injustice disappear.
In the verses we have today Jesus defends his disciples from the charge of violating the Sabbath. He enunciates the principle that human need is the highest law. Hungry disciples have the right to eat. How easy it is for us to ignore this first principle. Last night on the evening news was a story about drought in eastern Africa. Cattle have died and crops withered. Over a million men, women, and children are seeking food in refugee camps. United Nations aid agencies appear overwhelmed. The most vulnerable babies and children are dying. This morning our local paper (Pasadena Star News) ran a story about the local food pantry. It is turning potential clients away and for those who are already approved to receive food, rations are being cut. The shelves are bare! The only food in abundance is canned spinach. The article went on to say that government support is being cut back in the budget crisis.
So can we ignore all this and go on with our own comfortable lives? What is our response?
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.