1 Corinthians 4:6b-15
Embracing Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath
Once again, Jesus meets up with the contrarian Pharisees who noticed some "unlawful" Sabbath activity by Jesus and his disciples: hungry men picking heads of grain, shelling them in their hands, and eating them. The Pharisees’ question "why?" was another attempt to humiliate Jesus and weaken any support for Jesus’ message of Good News.
The Pharisees’ legalistic approach to their religious beliefs revealed an extreme view of God and a lack of human compassion; their attitude was "let the hungry starve on the Sabbath; the law is more important than any hunger…" Jesus pointed out that he and the disciples were doing what was reasonable – and not without precedent as noted in the life of King David; even the final statement of today’s Gospel selection cites Jesus’ crowning statement: "the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath."
These days, how do we honor the Sabbath, and the Lord of the Sabbath? Our 21st century society offers many encouragements to live each weekend (especially Sunday) as just more days for our everyday routines of busy-ness and work, busy-ness and workl. God…the Sabbath…no difference! Jesus challenges our thinking, just as he did the Pharisees of times past: the "Sabbath" is a sacred, special time for communication with God’; a time of re-creation and rest that opens our lives to the total gift of God’s Life at work in us. Like those early disciples, we need to walk with Jesus, be nourished by his word and example – and give of ourselves in a profound, sacrificial manner.
Today, we are about a "Labor Day" weekend, as well as moving towards the Church’s 23rd week in Ordinary Time. Many will continue to "labor"; some will invest themselves in fellowship and good food, often prepared and enjoyed outdoors in the waning days of summer. May these few days not be "ordinary", but may we walk with Jesus through the fields of Chicago, Louisville, Los Angeles, Houston, etc. — alive, filled with humility and gratitude for the many blessings that make up our lives as contemporary disciples of Jesus in union with St. Paul of the Cross. No doubt: Jesus is Lord!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.